The Missing Cross to Purity


James Naylor

Previous Warnings to Naylor

James Naylor was a very eloquent preacher. A group in London formed around him in admiration including several women expressing continual flatteries. Weeks prior to the incident, Fox had warned Naylor in writing to disassociate himself from his fawning admirers and instructed him to expel them from the Society. Naylor ignored the instruction. When Fox visited him in prison at Exeter, before his release that resulted in the ridiculous display, Fox warned him twice that he was infected with a deceiving spirit. Naylor refused to accept the warnings, instead wanting to kiss Fox, (like Judas), which Fox refused.

Largely Taken from Ruth Murray's Valiant for the Truth:

When James Naylor was released from Exeter prison, as he journeyed to Bristol, the frenzy of his admirers, (mostly women who had been imprisoned with him, and who greatly feigned over him, supposedly even bowing down to kiss his feet), reached its height. They formed a procession to attend him, a man leading Naylor's horse with his head uncovered, (wearing no hat outdoors was considered insanity); and the women strewed their scarves and handkerchiefs in his horseback ridden path, shouting hosannas before him, thus imitating Jesus' entry into Jerusalem, (all which seems pretty silly, but hardly a crime). They were promptly arrested and jailed in Bristol. These outrageous proceedings gave Quaker opposers the opportunity to bring the failure to the attention of the nation. Parliament, [From the Word of the Lord within: "whose arm had slain so many of the faithful and the just"], took up the matter, and, urged by the Presbyterian and Independent Puritan preachers, who wished to destroy the whole sect, condemned him to cruel and ignominious torture, [further testimony to the unchristian spirits of the Puritan Congregationalists and Presbyterians]. He was set in "the pillory for hours, whipped [in London alone, he took 310 lashes until every square inch of flesh was ripped from his back] by the hangman through the streets of London and Bristol, [while walking behind a cart, where his bare feet were cruelly stepped on by horses with nailed hooves along the way], his tongue was bored through with a hot iron, and his forehead branded with the letter "B" [for Blasphemer]. He was then sent to prison for life, from which he was released on the return of the King.

Site Editor's Comment: The gory details of the punishments, far out of proportion to the silly offense of Naylor, are deliberately omitted. However, there is one detail to clear up. When Naylor was severely punished by Parliament, far beyond what his lapse of judgment deserved, Robert Rich, a merchant of London, held his hand during and kissed his wounds after. Fox critics say Rich exhibited true forgiveness, while Fox himself should have been there helping Naylor also. They fail to understand that Robert Rich was one the fawning admirers, whose flatteries contributed to Naylor's original decline; and for any Quaker to associate with him would only continue to blacken the reputation of the Quakers. Further, that at this point Naylor had yet to arrive at repentance, continuing to try to justify his actions. Naylor himself says, while in later solitary confinement at Bridewell, "My heart is broken for the offense I have occasioned God's truth and people." Sewel also reports that Robert Rich went on to ally himself with John Perrot, a Quaker  who left the Society and became a severe enemy of Quakers, writing two critical books against Quakers ( The Spirit of the Hat and Tyranny and Hypocrisy Detected ) and was even caught forging Edward Burrough's name to a scandalous document, and who later severely persecuted Quakers in America for failure to swear. Fox critics are wrong again.

Quakers throughout England were then viciously attacked in meetings and in public as dangerous heretics. Naylor's actions generated a plague of persecutions from individuals and governments on the Quakers. Many thought the Quakers would fall, but they came together, and continued to prosper.

Site Editor's Comment : However, the cause was definitely damaged, and in a way that may not be so obvious, (see my comments at the end).

More Detail, Largely taken from Sewel’s The History of the Quakers, (who personally interviewed some of the participants in this unfortunate incident.)

After this [after his punishments] he was imprisoned at Bridewell. He bore his imprisonment with great patience, and in his solitary confinement the scales fell from his eyes, [his first true repentance]. “My heart is broken," he writes to his friends, "for the offense I have occasioned God's truth and people. I beseech you, forgive me." He made a full recantation of his conduct, and after his release from prison, in a large meeting at Bristol, spoke so feelingly of his sin, and of God's mercy in restoring him, that there were few dry eyes among his audience. His friends lovingly received the penitent, and the Lord again enabled him to preach the gospel; but his constitution was so weakened by his sufferings that he died in 1660 at the age of forty-three. In the hour of death he said: "There is a spirit I feel, which delights to do no evil, nor to revenge any wrong. Its ground and spring are the mercy and forgiveness of God, its crown is meekness, its life is everlasting love."

Although, as a body, Friends had disowned James Naylor's conduct, [but fortunately, not the man], the same Parliament that pronounced this cruel sentence upon him, enacted a bill against vagrants, worded so that it could be used against Friends. By this, every idle person or vagrant who had not a good and sufficient business for traveling that the justices approved, could be punished as a rogue. (And many Quakers were severely punished.)

James Naylor was born of honest parents, in the parish of Ardsley, near Wakefield in Yorkshire, about the year 1616. He had served in the parliament army, being a quarter-master in major-general Lambert troop in Scotland; was a member of the Independents; and afterwards, in the year 1651, being convinced by George Fox; along with Richard Farnsworth, Thomas Aldam, William Dewsbury* and wife, he joined the Quakers. About a year later, while behind the plough, he heard a voice telling him to leave his family to preach the Truth. He delayed and suffered punishment for his disobedience, and then he left under orders to travel west with no idea what he was supposed to do. When he got there, he was given the message; and he continued to follow the Lord's directions. He was a man of excellent natural ability, and at preaching he acquitted himself well, both in word and writing among his friends, so that many came to receive the Truth by his ministry.

* Dewsbury was at the meeting, but had long been convinced before. In fact he was already in the Kingdom at the time of this meeting. He was one of the very few who attained maturity before ever meeting Fox or another Quaker who had been convinced by Fox.

He came to London towards the latter end of the year 1654, or beginning of 1655, and found there a meeting of Friends, which had already been gathered in that city by the service of Edward Burrough and Francis Howgill. He preached in such an eminent manner, that many admiring his great gift, began to esteem him much above his brethren, which though it should have not affected him, did lead to a schism in the society; and this ran so high, that some forward and inconsiderate women, of whom Martha Simmons* was the chief, assumed the boldness to dispute with Francis Howgill and Edward Burrough, openly in their preaching, and thus to disturb the meetings. Howgill and Burrough, both being outstanding ministers, reproved her indiscretion, as was their duty.

*From the Cambridge Journal, Vol. 2, p. 464; Fox wrote to Naylor in 1656: "Martha Simmonds, and Stranger [John] and his wife, are denied for their lies and slanders, and so judged out of the truth." Naylor was thus ordered to shun their company, which he obviously did not do, disobeying a direct order from the Quaker Society, not just Fox; because, according to Fox's precise instructions in several letters, which closely followed scripture, no one within the Society was denied unless an Assembly had warned them repeatedly without their resulting repentance.

But these women, who had disputed with Burrough and Howgill and who then were rebuked by Burrough and Howgill for divisive behavior, were so incensed at their rebuke, that Martha and another woman, went and complained to James Naylor. Their plea did not succeed, for he would not pass judgment upon his brethren, as they asked.

Site Editor's Comment: But, even if Naylor had not read the letter that Fox wrote him referenced above, he should have severely censored Martha and disassociated himself from her if she failed to repent of her sowing discord among the brethren, being one of the six things the Lord detests. Naylor was obviously very far gone from the truth, even at this point. The Lord has told me: groups of flattering women are particularly dangerous. He had failed in his duty as a minister, even before the scandal. Naylor's failure was more than a temporary lapse of judgment due to harsh imprisonment. His failure, a departure from the Spirit of God, occurred long before his imprisonment and release where the silly display occurred. Many people believe that Naylor's failure was due to his harsh imprisonment; but the facts show it was just the last error in judgment, following several other even more serious errors: failure to heed Fox's letter to disassociate himself from his admirers, followed by failure to heed Fox's several verbal warnings.

At which point Martha fell into a "passion, in a kind of loud weeping, and bitterly crying out with a mournful shrill voice, 'I looked for judgment, but hear my cry;'" and with that preface to her performance, she cried in a loud and passionate lamenting manner, which so entered and pierced James Naylor that it struck him down into so much sorrow and sadness that he became dejected in spirit and disconsolate. Fear and doubt then entered him, so that he came to be clouded in his understanding, bewildered, and at a loss in his judgment. This estranged him from his best [true, unflattering] friends because they did not approve of his conduct. Worse, he continued to give ear to the flattering praises of some whimsical people, for which he ought to have abhorred them and reproved them. His sorrowful state ought to stand as a warning, even to those that have received great gifts, that they can never accept human exaltation, for fear they will also fall, but instead endeavor to continue in true humility, the only way a Christian can maintain safety.

Hannah Stranger,1 whom I very well know, and have reason to believe a woman of high imaginations, at this time wrote to him several very extravagant letters; calling him the everlasting Son of Righteousness, Prince of Peace, the only begotten Son of God, the fairest of ten thousands, etc. One of these letters of outlandish praise was found on Naylor when he was arrested. In the letters of Jane Woodcock, John Stranger, and others, were expressions of the like extravagancy; the said Hannah Stranger, Martha Simmons, and Dorcas Erbury, arrived to that height of folly, that in the prison at Exeter, they kneeled before Naylor, and kissed his feet; but as to what has been divulged concerning his supposed committing of fornication, I never could find, though very inquisitive in the case, that he was in the least guilty thereof.2 But for all that, he was already too much transported, and grew yet more exorbitant; for being released from that prison, and riding to Bristol in the beginning of November, he was accompanied by the previously mentioned and other persons. Passing through the suburbs of Bristol, Thomas Woodcock went bare-headed3 before him; one of them led his horse; Dorcas, Martha, and Hannah spread their scarves and their handkerchiefs before him, and the company sang, “Holy, holy, holy, the Lord God of hosts, Hosanna in the highest: holy, holy, holy, is Lord God of Israel." Thus these mad people sang, while they were walking through the mire and dirt, until they came into Bristol; where they were examined by the magistrates, and committed to prison; and not long after Naylor was carried to London, to be examined by the parliament, [ the government body, whose arm had already slain so many of the faithful and the just].

End of Sewel's Text

1 Hannah saw her error and was fully reinstated in the Society. As testimony to the Quaker's policy of forgiveness and forgetting past wrongs, some time after, George Fox asked Hannah to accompany his daughter to plead with King Charles II for the release of his wife, Margaret Fox, from prison; obviously a most important task, requested with faith and confidence in Hannah.

2 Since Naylor freely admitted other serious errors, but insisted he was totally innocent of the fornication charges, the fornication charges are not the least bit credible. Naylor said fornication was impossible for he had been made, "as to all women, as a child, God is my record." This bears witness to the necessity of becoming as a little child to enter the kingdom, and that some men become eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven.

3 Thomas Woodcock went bare-headed, leading Naylor's horse. Notice how scandalous it was to be without a hat outside. To be without a hat in this era was considered to be evidence of a man's lack of sanity. Culture can persuade us beyond simple reasoning. This is exactly the same cultural taboo that existed in the Apostles early church, only in that time it applied to women's heads being covered in their meetings.

Naylor had received the fruit of the Spirit after crucifying his lusts and affections, and he had arrived at the first stage of perfection; willful disobedience in this first stage of perfection is fatal. Willful sin is the fruit withering, and as the word of the Lord within said: "When the fruit withers, the protection is removed." Naylor's death due to injuries appears to be the classic example of the Lord's removal of protection from fruit that had withered and the stars that fell from heaven in Rev 6:13. Naylor showed very poor judgment. Naylor was disobedient to his elder, George Fox. Naylor disobeyed the written order of the Society. Naylor was clearly out, under the influence of flattery and resulting pride. Naylor's death at 42 due to injuries as he was going home, after the scandal and resulting imprisonment, appears to be the Lord's removal of protection from fruit that had withered in the stars that fell from heaven. George Fox in his letter below, quoting the Word of the Lord, wrote to him: "You and your disciples, and the world [are] joined against the Truth, it is manifest through your willfulness and stubbornness; and this is the word of the Lord God to you." Those who reach the first stage of perfection and wilfully sin are those described in Heb 10:26-29, who have acted with spite to the spirit of grace, and for whom there remains no more sacrifice for sins.

When Naylor and his foolish admirers were arrested, the following letter from Fox to him was found on his person:

From Friends Library, Vol. XI, 1847, page 338.  (A very strong warning.)

From W. Caton's Manuscript Collection at Swarthmore

Among the Swarthmore collection of letters, was found the following address from George Fox to James Nayler about this time:—it is endorsed by George Fox thus :— ‘g ff to james naler 1656.' and at foot is a memorandum in the same hand-writing as that of the letter, namely.—' This is a copy of the letter that was found in his possession when he was examined.'

James, you must bear your own burden and your company's with you, whose iniquity does increase; and by you, is not cried against. You have satisfied the world, yes, their desires which they looked for. You and your disciples, and the world [are] joined against the Truth, it is manifest through your willfulness and stubbornness; and this is the word of the Lord God to you. Many did not expect that you would have been an encourager of such, as those who cry against the power and life of Truth; but you would have been a nourisher of Truth, and would not have trained up a company against it. And what is that which does fulfill the world's prophecy and their desires? Therefore consider, and search yourself, if this is innocence. The light of God in you all I own, but this I judge.

George Fox

For James N. these

How it went there may be seen in the printed trial, which the parliament eagerly published, I believe that James Naylor was clouded in his understanding in this transaction [in the trial; he had not come to full realization of what he had done, which is prerequisite to repentance];

To support Sewel's conclusions regarding Naylor, we have letters from Richard Huberthorne to Margaret Fell, describing Naylor's condition in prison, even after the punishment, and how his followers continued to shame the Quakers:

RICHARD HUBBERTHORNE TO MARGARET FELL.

London, 25th of Ninth month, [eleventh mo.] 1656.

DEAR SISTER,—My dear love salutes you and the rest of your family, and all the faithful thereabouts.

I have been in the east counties, Essex, Suffolk, and Norfolk; where the service of the Lord is great, and the laborers are few. And as the travail is great, so is the reward; which is, his power and presence to accompany his work.

At present I am come up again to London; but it is like I shall not stay long in the city, but pass into the west to Bristol and South Wales, if the Lord will.

James Nayler is here at London; he and the women are kept as prisoners at an inn, and have been twice called before a Committee of Parliament-men, and examined whether he would own that James Nayler was Christ; but he kept them out of all occasions against him, saying he denied James Nayler to be Christ, but Christ was in him. There has been several times [some] of the Parliament men have come to the place where they are kept prisoners, questioning him about such things as were acted by him and the women, in their witnessing him to be so; but he sometimes put them off without giving them a full answer, and left them unsatisfied. Upon sixth-day last, I was with James. That power of darkness in the women rules over him, as I wrote to you at the first. Many people come daily to them, both of the world, and also such as are convinced and they wonder at the imitations which are acted among them; as they often will kneel before him, etc. James speaks pretty much to Friends as in justifying all their actions to be in innocent. I was moved to speak unto him when I was with him, but he was not willing to hear me open the truth of anything to the people. My heart was made to pity his condition; but all the counsel of the brethren to him is contemned in the present state in which he is, though bowels of tenderness have been extended towards him. Some that are unstable think that there is a great power among them;  but though it darkens some at the present as a cloud,—being risen out of the earth,—at the end of the days of limitation, it will fall to the earth again; the sun will shine over it : and the children will receive power of the Son to reign over all deceit. This I have written, to let you understand something of his condition as it is.

Your dear brother, R. H.

From W. Caton's Manuscript Collection at Swarthmore

RICHARD HUBBERTHORNE TO МARGARET FELL,

London, 10th of Twelfth month, 1656 [second mo. 1657.]

As for James Naylor he is in Bridewell, and they will allow few to come to him. His women followers, sometimes appoint meetings in the most public places of the city, as in the Exchange, and at the places where James Naylor suffered. From the Exchange they sent some of them to prison at Bridewell. They are a great offence to the way of Truth here for the present; but the Truth will work through it all. Though the waters of strife are up in floods at present, yet sweetly does the water of life flow, and pleasant streams are drunk of by those who keep patient in the will of God; and life, power, and glory, are more manifest than ever from the Father.

R. H.

[In a letter dated London, 22nd of Twelfth month, second month 1657,] he further writes thus ;—]

As for James Nayler he remains in Bridewell, and is kept close; they will not allow any Friends to come at him, but his wife gets to him sometimes. He is still in the separation from Truth and from Friends; but the work of God goes on and prospers. Alexander Parker is here; Edward Burrough is in Essex; and Francis Howgill in Kent.

R. H.

From W. Caton's Manuscript Collection

There are other letters from Early Quakers, tracing the recovery of James Naylor, eventually resulting in his restoration and even successful preaching again. See Historical Letters. William Dewsbury also has a comforting report of the reconciliation of Naylor to Fox, Howgill, Burrough, and others.

Sewel Continues:

But however grievous his actions were, yet it pleased God, in his infinite mercy to raise him up again, and to bring him to such sincere repentance, that, (as we may see in the  sequel), he abhorred not only this whole business, but also manifested his heart-felt sorrow, in truly penitent expressions, which were published, as follows:

'Glory to God Almighty, who rules in the heavens and in whose hands are all the kingdoms of the earth; who raises ups, and casts down at his will; who has ways to confound the exaltation of man, and to chastise his children, and to make man to know himself to be as dust before him; whose judgments are above the highest of men, and whose pity reaches the deepest misery; and the arm of his mercy is underneath, to lift up the prisoner out of the pit, and to save such as trust in him from the great destruction, which vain man through his folly, brings upon himself; who has delivered my soul from darkness, and made way for my freedom out of the prison-house, and ransomed me from the great captivity; who divides the sea before him, and removes the mountains out of his way, in the day when he takes upon him to deliver the oppressed out of the hand of him that is too mighty for him of the earth; let his name be exalted for ever, and let all flesh fear him; whose breath is life to his own, but a consuming fire to the adversary.

And to the Lord Jesus Christ be everlasting dominion upon earth, and his kingdom above all the powers of darkness; even that Christ of whom the Scriptures declare, which was, and is, and is to come, the light of the world to all generations; of whose coming I testify with the rest of the children of light, begotten of the immortal seed, whose truth and virtue now shine in the world, unto the righteousness of eternal life, and the Savior of all who believe therein; who has been the rock of my salvation, and his spirit has given quietness and patience to my soul in deep affliction, even for his name's sake; praises forever.

But condemned forever are all those false worships with which any gave that idolized my person in the night of my temptation, when the power of darkness was above. All their casting of their clothes in the way, their bowings and singings, and all the rest of those wild actions which did any way tend to dishonor the Lord, or draw the minds of any from the measure of Christ Jesus in themselves, to look at flesh, which is as grass, or to ascribe that to the visible, which belongs to Christ Jesus; all that I condemn, by which the pure name of the Lord has been in any way blasphemed through me, in the time of temptation: or the spirits of any people grieved, who truly love the Lord Jesus, throughout the whole world, of whatever sort. This offence I confess, which has been, sorrow of heart, that the enemy of man's peace in Christ, should get this advantage in the night of my trial, to stir up wrath and offences in the creation of God; a thing the simplicity of my heart did not intend, the Lord knows; who in his endless love has given me power over it, to condemn it. And also that letter which was sent me to Exeter, by John Stranger, when I was in prison, with these words, “Your name shall be no longer James Naylor, but Jesus,” this I charge to be written from the imaginations; and a fear struck me when I first saw it, so I put it into my pocket, close, not intending any should read it; which they finding on me, spread it abroad, which the simplicity of my heart never owned. So this I deny also, that the name of Christ Jesus was received instead of James Naylor, or ascribed to him; for that name is to the promised seed of all generations; and he that has the Son, has the name, which is life and power, the salvation and the unction, into which name all the children of light are baptized. And the name of Christ I confess before men, which name to me was a strong tower in the night and in the day; and this is the name Christ Jesus, which I confess, the Son and the Lamb, the promised where he speaks in male and female. But who has not this in him has not life, neither can have, by idolizing my person, or that of any flesh; but in whom the heir is born, and has spoken, or does speak, there he must not be denied the mouth to speak by, who is over all, and in all his own, God blessed forever.

And all those ranting wild spirits, which then gathered about me in that time of darkness; and all their wild actions and wicked against the honor of God, and his pure spirit and people; I deny that bad spirit, the power and the works thereof; and as far as I gave advantage, through lack of judgment, for that evil spirit in any to arise, I take shame to myself justly; having formerly had power over that spirit, in judgment and discerning, wherever it was; which darkness came over me through want of watchfulness and obedience to the pall [sudden numbing dread] of God's eye, and diligently minding the reproof of life, which condemns the adulterous spirit. So the adversary got advantage, who ceases not to seek to devour; and being taken captive from the true light, I was walking in the night where none can work, as a wandering bird fit for a prey. And if the Lord of all my mercies had not rescued me, I would have perished; for I was as one appointed to death and destruction, and there was none who could deliver me. And this I confess, that God may be justified in his judgment, and magnified in his mercies without end, who did not forsake his captive in the night, even when his spirit was daily provoked and grieved; but has brought me forth to give glory to his name forever. And it is in my heart to confess to God, and before men, my folly and offence in that day; yet were there many things formed against me in that day to take away my life, and bring scandal upon the Truth, of which I am not guilty at all; as that accusation, as  if I had committed adultery with some of those women who came with us from Exeter prison, and also those who were with me at Bristol the night before I suffered there; of both which accusations I am clear before God, who kept me in that day both in thought and deed, as to all women, as a child, God is my record. And this I mention in particular, (hearing of some who still cease not to reproach therewith God's Truth and people), that the mouth of enmity might be shut from evil speaking; though this touches not my conscience.

And that report, as though I had raised Dorcas Erbury from the dead carnally, this I deny also, and condemn that testimony to be out of the Truth; though that power that quickens the dead, I deny not, which is the word of eternal life. And this I give forth, that it may go as far as the offence against the Spirit of Truth has gone abroad, that all burdens might he taken off of the Truth, and the Truth cleared thereby, and the light, and all that walk therein, and the deeds of darkness be condemned, and that all that are in darkness, may not act in the night, but wait upon God, who dwells in the light, who with the workers of iniquity have no fellowship; which had I done, when first darkness came upon and not been led by others, I would not have run against that rock to be shaken, which so long had borne me, and of whom I had so largely drank, and of which I now drink in measure; to whom be the glory of all, and of him must every tongue confess, as Judge and Savior, God over all, forever.

This I have learned in the deeps, and in secret, when I was alone; and now declare openly in the day of your mercy, O Lord. Glory to the Highest for evermore, who has thus far set me free, to praise his righteousness and his mercy; and to the eternal, invisible, pure God, over all, be fear, obedience, and glory evermore. Amen.'

James Naylor

He wrote another paper, wherein he related at large, how by lack of watchfulness he came to fall, after having once obtained much victory over the power of Satan, by the grace of God, when he daily walked humbly in his fear, having for some years labored faithfully in the ministry of his gospel. But what is remarkable, though wherever he did use to come, he went with great boldness through all opposition, yet coming to the city of London, he entered it with the greatest fear that ever he came into any place with, in spirit foreseeing, (as he relates,) somewhat to befall him there, but not knowing what it might be:

‘Yet had I [I wish I could have had] the same presence and power [as before], into whatever place or service I was led of the Spirit; for in that life I never returned without victory in Christ Jesus, the Lord thereof. But not minding in all things to stand single and low to the motions of that endless life, by it to be led in all things within and without; but giving away to the reasoning part, as to some things which in themselves had no seeming evil, by little and little it drew out my mind after trifles, vanities, and persons, which took the affectionate part, by which my mind was drawn out from the constant watch and pure fear, into which I once was begotten. Thus having in great measure lost my own guide, and darkness being come upon me, I sought a place where I might have been alone to weep and cry before the Lord, that his face I might find, and my condition recover. But then my adversary, who had long waited his opportunity, had got in, and stirred himself in every way, so that I could not be hidden to find peace; and many messages came to me, some true, some false, as I have since seen. So I knowing some to be true, namely, how I had lost my condition, with that I let in the false message also; and so letting go that little of the true life which I had yet remaining in myself, I gave up myself wholly to be used by others; whose work was then to divide me from the children of light which was done: though much was done by several of them to prevent it, and in bowels of tender love many labored to have stayed me, away from them. And after I was led out from them, the Lord God of my life sent several of his servants with his word after me, for my return; all which was rejected; yes, the provocation of that time of temptation was exceedingly great against the pure love of God; yet he left me hope, for after I had given myself under that power, and darkness was absolute, my adversary so prevailed, that all things were turned and perverted against my right seeing, hearing, or understanding; only a secret hope and faith I had in my God, whom I had served, that he would bring me through it, and to the end of it, and that I should again see the day of redemption from under it all; and this quieted my soul in my great tribulation.

He who has saved my soul from death thus far, and has lifted my feet up out of the pit, even to him be immortal glory forever, and every troubled soul trust in him; for his mercy endures forever.

James Naylor

That he came to a perfect recovery from his having been deceived seems to appear plainly by the following thanksgiving to God for his mercies, which he published after his fall :

AND IN THE DAY WHEN MY GOD LIFTED MY FEET OUT OF THE PIT WAS THIS GIVEN FORTH.

It is in my heart to praise you, O my God, let me never forget you, what you have been to me in the night, by your presence in the day of trial, when I was beset in darkness, when I was cast out as a wandering bird, when I was assaulted with strong temptations, then your presence in secret did preserve me; and in a low estate I felt you near me, when the floods sought to sweep me away, you set a compass for them, how far they should pass over, when my way was through the sea, and when I passed under the mountains, there were you present with me, when the weight of the hills was upon me, you upheld me, else had I sunk under the earth, when I was as one altogether helpless, when tribulation and anguish was upon me day and night, and the earth without foundation; when I went on the way of wrath, and passed by the gates of hell; when all comforts stood a far off, and he that is my enemy had dominion; when I was cast into the pit, and was as one appointed to death; when I was between the millstones, and as one crushed with the weight of his adversary, as a father you were with me, and the rock of your presence, when the mouths of lions roared against me, and fear took hold on my soul in the pit. Then I called upon you in the night, and my cries were strong before you daily, who answered me from your habitation, and delivered me from your dwelling place, saying, “I will set you above all your fears, and lift up your feet above the head of oppression:” I believed and was strengthened, and your word was salvation. You did fight on my part when I wrestled with death; and when darkness would have shut me up, then your light shone about me, and your banner was over my head. When my work was in the furnace, and as I passed through the fire, by your mercy I was not consumed, though the flames ascended above my head. When I beheld the dreadful visions and was amongst the fiery spirits, your faith stayed me, else through fear I had fallen. I saw you and believed, so the enemy could not prevail. When I look back into your works I am astonished, and see no end of your praises. Glory, glory to you, said my soul, and let my heart be ever filled with thanksgiving; while your works remain, they shall show forth your power; then did you lay the foundation of the earth, and led me under the waters, and in the deep  you showed me wonders, and the forming of the world. By your hand you led me in safety until you showed me the pillars of the earth. Then did the heavens shower down, they were covered with darkness and the powers thereof were shaken, and your glory descended, you filled the lower parts of the earth with gladness, and the springs of the valleys were opened; your showers descended abundantly, so the earth was filled with virtue. You made your plant to spring, and the thirsty soul became as a watered garden; then you lifted me out of the pit, and set me forth in the sight of my enemies: you proclaimed liberty to the captive, and called mine acquaintance near me, they to whom I had been a wonder, looked upon me, and in your love I obtained favour in those who had forsook me, then did gladness swallow up sorrow, and I forsook all my troubles; and I said, how good is it that man be proved in the night, that he may know his folly, that every mouth may become silent in your hand, until you make man known to himself, and have slain the boaster, and showed him the vanity that vexes your spirit.

James Naylor

In October 1660, while travelling to rejoin his family in Yorkshire, he was robbed and left near death in a field, then brought to the home of a Quaker doctor in Kings Ripton. A day later he died on 21 October, aged 42. Below is HIS LAST TESTIMONY, SAID TO BE DELIVERED BY HIM ABOUT TWO HOURS BEFORE HIS DEPARTURE OUT OF THIS LIFE; SEVERAL FRIENDS BEING PRESENT.

There is a spirit which I feel, that delights to do no evil, nor to revenge any wrong, but delights to endure all things, in hope to enjoy its own in the end. Its hope is to outlive all wrath and contention, and to weary out all exaltation and cruelty, or whatever is of a nature contrary to itself. It sees to the end of all temptations: as it bears no evil in itself, so it conceives none in thoughts to any other. If it be betrayed it bears it; for its ground and spring is the mercies and forgiveness of God. Its crown is meekness, its life is everlasting love unfeigned, and takes its kingdom with entreaty, and not with contention, and keeps it by lowliness of mind. In God alone it can rejoice, though none else regard it, or can own its life. It's conceived in sorrow, and brought forth without any to pity it; nor does it murmur at grief and oppression. It never rejoices, but through sufferings; for with the world's joy, it is murdered. I found it alone, being forsaken; I have fellowship therein, with them who lived in dens, and desolate places in the earth, who through death obtained this resurrection and eternal holy life.

He died in peace with the Lord, at Home in Huntingtonshire, and was buried at Kings-Rippon in the said county, the latter end of the year 1660, about at the age of 43.

Reflections on Avoiding Such Errors:

As Judas desired to kiss the Lord on the night he had betrayed him, so did Naylor attempt to kiss Fox when Fox warned him he was under the influence of a dark spirit. The dark spirit attempts to cover its errors with a feigned demonstration of love, rather than regret or sorrow — seeking the reprover's confusion and doubt of their error. When someone has been confronted with error and seeks to demonstrate their love for the reprover, beware of their deception and refuse it.

1) As George Fox has stated throughout his letters and Journal:

  • Do not drop your watchful guard against deceitful spirits.
  • Beware of inordinate affections and feigned flattery.
  • When you find people looking at you with admiration, instead of Jesus, withdraw, leaving them to the Lord.
  • When your find your spirit depressed or contentious, withdraw to solitude in the Light to be revived to peace.
  • Let no one raise a false report on the people of God without severe censure.
  • If they fail to repent of their actions, deny them your company and fellowship; expel them from the membership.

2) I would submit the following additional admonitions:

  • If you find your pride swelling due to your preaching or writing; cease and flee to the solitude of sitting in the Light until ordered back to your tasks by the Light.
  • Beware of flatteries. Rebuke them. The Lord has told me: groups of flattering women are particularly dangerous.
  • Beware of crying women; such can completely overcome a man's good judgment. There is a protective instinct in a man to take care of a woman in distress; but never let that instinct overcome your basic spiritual and moral principles learned.
  • When you find yourself getting mixed messages, some true and some false, withdraw to the solitude of waiting on the Light.
  • When you are warned by an obviously mature brother, (Fox had initially preached the gospel to Naylor), heed it.
  • Don't tolerate small failures, for as Naylor said: by little and little I was drawn out. Flee to the Light.

George Fox's Concluding Statement Regarding Naylor:

James Naylor was a monument of human frailty. His gift in the ministry was eminent; his experience in divine things truly great. He fell through dropping his watchful guard against deceitful spirits, but was restored through deep sufferings and unfeigned repentance. His own writings are the most clear and lively description of the various dispensations he underwent; some of them deserve to be transmitted to the latest posterity.

For those with further interest in James Naylor, there are many of his writings on the web.

Site Editor's Conclusion :

Fox said that he had, and others could: 1) pass their fallen state in Adam and Eve, 2) arrive at the restored state of Adam and Eve, perfect, but still subject to temptation's fall, and 3) then to pass that to a higher state, sitting down in Christ Jesus, who never fell, thus protected from ever sinning again. He said that in Christ, while still subject to temptation, this state could not fall. It is apparent to me that Naylor had not arrived at the final step. I have prayed about this and other Quakers, who appeared to not have arrived at Fox's level, and the clear answer I got back was: "He, who is born of God, does not sin."

Fox was sent to preach for three years before he entered the Kingdom. John Story, John Wilkinson, and George Keith were three Quaker ministers who preached in the company of Fox or others in the Kingdom, and who later led serious splits in the Quaker movement; such splits being the worst sin possible. So I must conclude that these three men, plus Naylor and Barclay,* had only arrived at either 1) the first stage of perfection, without union in the kingdom, or even less, 2) only the sealing of the Holy Spirit and in what I describe as the Interim Reward on this site, where Christ told me: "many are so happy to arrive at this state; they think how wonderful everything is, and relax. Many die here." Don't. Follow orders. Keep oil in your lamps; abide in the light until you are no longer here, but there viewing here from there, where you walk by the Light of God.

Stephen Crisp addressed this two stage perfection in one of his letters:

  1. So a man or woman may come to Adam's state that he was in before he fell, which was without sin. Against such the judgment of God does not go forth, but they have peace with God, and fellowship in what is pure, before sin and transgression were. Those who come to this state, may be entangled again; as was Eve, and if they do not watch, they may be entangled again;

  2. but if such are faithful to the power that redeemed them from the sin, and in the power resist the temptation, then do such receive the seal of eternal life in Christ Jesus, who never fell, though he was tempted, and so come to an establishment in him who never changes.

See the Footnote to Galatians 5:24 for more on the two stages of perfection.

Naylor's death due to injuries appears to be the Lord's removal of protection from fruit that had withered in the stars that fell from heaven. George Fox has written to him: "You and your disciples, and the world [are] joined against the Truth, it is manifest through your willfulness and stubbornness; and this is the word of the Lord God to you." Naylor's wilful sin after having been crucified, entering paradise, having fellowship with the Father and Son, but only being at the first stage of perfection without permanent protection from sin, was the sin that leads to death. As I was reviewing James Naylor's failure in my mind, I heard the Word of the Lord within say: "stunning willfulness." If you are aware of how eminent James Naylor was among the early Quakers, it is indeed stunning what he did and continued to do over a significant period of time.

I think many thousands of people have grossly underestimated the measure of Christ's spirit that dwelled with Fox. There are many letters, (but very few published), which show that Fox was held in esteem by many others that I can only imagine having for Christ himself; yet even Margaret Fell and her children held him in an esteem that I would describe as revered. Additionally, I would submit that though Edward Burrough was a giant among Quakers, on his death-bed, he said: "if George Fox had been with me but one hour, I would be well." And Francis Howgill, another giant among Quakers, in a letter to Margaret Fell, said this: "Salute us dearly to George Fox; one hour with him would be great joy to us." This furthers the evidence that Fox's measure of Christ was beyond any of the other Quakers.

From around 1700 onward, I fear the average post-Naylor Quaker has equated Naylor with Fox, many even considering Naylor superior to Fox, frequently denigrating Fox to have been deluded or exaggerating; and worse, by identifying with the failure of Naylor, rather than persisting with their maximum effort to secure union with God in the kingdom as did Fox, (and others, such as Burrough, Margaret Fell, Howgill, Parnell, Penington, Dewsbury, etc.), instead, finding an excuse in Naylor for their own failure to reach the state where "he who is born of God, does not sin." Fox claimed a unity with Christ, a oneness with Christ; the state described by Paul as: "it is no longer I that live, but Christ within me." Let us never be satisfied with the lower state that Paul had passed through, described by Paul as: "it is no longer I that do the deed, but the sin that remains in me."

If before entering the second stage of perfection, (full union and sitting down with Christ in the heavens), you are sent by Christ to do something, (even preach), do that and only that; to then return to your habitation and get back into the light, waiting on the Lord for further instructions. Do not make the mistake of believing you have arrived, and thus continue to "serve the Lord," without receiving specific further instructions on exactly what to do and exactly when to do it. Do this, and you will do well. From George Fox's Letter 83.

And take heed of forward minds, and of running out before your guide,
for that leads out into looseness; and such plead for liberty,
and run out in their wills, and bring dishonor to the Lord;
and the unbridled will gets at liberty, and an exalted spirit gets up,
and pride, and haughtiness, and high words.
And such are they who add to the burden, and do not take it off.
Therefore all wait low in the fear of the Lord,
and be not hasty nor rash, but see the way be made clear;
and as the Lord does move you, so do, and return with speed, (when you have done),
to the place where you were abiding, and be faithful there;
that the truth of God be not evil spoken of through you,
as they speak of vagabonds and wanderers, that it may not be so among you.
Those who run before their guide are vagabonds and wanderers.
....
And friends, in all places, where any go abroad, as they pass by examine them,
where they are going, and what are their intentions?
And if they cannot give a good account, exhort them to return back,
and abide faithful in their places until they see their way made clear.

Before Fox entered paradise and then union with God, he was sent on specific errands of preaching and teaching by the Lord. But he did not stay out. When completing the task, he promptly returned to his habitation to wait in the Light, as he strongly advises above. If you fail to do so, you are in danger of never receiving the pearl of great price.

May you so obtain it, along with the everlasting peace of God, quietness and confidence forever. Peace.

____________________________

*I quote Barclay's Apology, Section II of Proposition 8 : "Others may perhaps speak more certainly of this state, as having arrived to it. For me, I shall speak modestly, as acknowledging myself not to have arrived at it; yet I dare not deny it, for that it seems so positively to be asserted by the apostle, in these words (1 John 3:9), "He that is born of God sins not, neither can he, because the seed of God remains in him." (For this single statement, Barclay's writings are not included on this site; Naylor's other pre-failure writings are also excluded.)

George Fox, In his Journal, states that he was taken past the state of Adam and Eve before the fall, where he was still capable of falling to temptation, to beyond their state, to sit down in Christ, to that state that should never fall:

"But I was immediately taken up in spirit, to see into another or more steadfast state than Adam's in innocence, even into a state in Christ Jesus, that should never fall.** And the Lord showed me, that such as were faithful to him, in the power and light of Christ, should come up into that state in which Adam was before he fell; in which the admirable works of the creation, and the virtues of that may be known, through the openings of that divine word of wisdom and power by which they were made. "

This is the restoration of man to his state before the fall. Notice there is an omission that Christ will take others beyond the state of Adam. But in Letter 245, Fox says: "But, to come to Christ, who was before the world began, who is first and last, beginning and ending, such abiding in him shall know a state that will never fall." (To know a state, in Fox's way of expressing himself throughout his writings, is to possess the state. Evidently the key to being incapable of falling to temptation, is to arrive at the state of sitting down in Christ, and to remain there, abiding in Him).

And in Letter 222, Fox says: "For are not here kindness and riches, for man and woman to be brought out of that state in the fall, to the state of Adam and Eve before they fell. And he that brings them here is Christ, and it is by his blood, it cost him his blood, his life, and he does not leave them in the state that Adam and Eve were in before they fell, but he sets them down in himself, who never fell, a safer state than Adam was in before he fell. Now who sit here in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, the first and the last, the beginning and ending, the safe place, in the wisdom of God."

My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all;
and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand.
John 10:29


We know that whoever is born of God does not sin; but He [the Spirit of Christ within your heart] who is fathered by God protects him [the man], and the wicked one does not touch him.
1 John 5:18

This web site's purpose is to show how to become
free from sin
by benefiting from the changing power of God through the cross,
which leads to union with God in his Kingdom.