James Nayler and set and established places of worship.

Research Notes, James Naylor, Outward Forms, Church Buildings, Meeting Houses, Inshining Light, Sufficiency


In 1655 James Nayler published a pamphlet entitled To Thee Oliver Cromwell, into whose hands God hath committed the sword of justice …


That there be no forcing any to uphold the high places of the nation, seeing that many that truly fear God cannot worship in them without sin; but that liberty be given herein, and that every people may repair their own meeting places. I know many out of a blind zeal to those places will be offended; but what is that which would not do to others the same that you would have them to do to you; is that reason, equity, or conscience? Would thou be content to be forced against thy conscience to repair the houses of others, which they meet in who differ from thee in judgment? and that upon good ground from Scripture, who meet in private or hired houses for conscience sake, refusing those places which have been consecrated to idols? And if you look upon such as brethren of freeborn subjects, is there not the same reason in it? But if thou say, must the house of God go down? I answer, houses of God they are not; conveniency is the best you can plead for them; and of all men, you who stay in those houses have least cause to find fault with such as go out, seeing they leave you the houses you so much esteem of, wholly to yourselves, with all that belongs to them, and you have them for repairing, and they that go out, betake themselves either into the fields, private houses, or some convenient place, not chargeable to any.


The intent of this note is to highlight Nayler’s defense of those who, through the appearance of the inshining Light upon their consciousness and conscience, were come out of the practice worshipping in set buildings because such would be “sin” for them. Nayler here documents that there were people including Quakers who, by the appearance of the inshining Light upon their conscience, were so come into identification with the sufficiency of the inshining Light in their consciousness and conscience that the very act of identifying with and worshipping in set Churches or Meetings brought them out of a consciousness and conscience ruled and guided by the sufficiency of the inshining Light itself in itself. That is, they came into idolatrous participation, which is the usurpation of the rule and government of the inshining Light itself in itself … which is the nature of “sin.”


Side note: Those who are come out of identification with outwardly established and set places for worship, by Naylor’s testimony, did not try to force everyone out of identification with outwardly established buildings. They merely no longer participated in the practice and would not participate in the upkeep and maintenance of these buildings and went “into the fields.”


Again, Nayler here documents there were those who were come out of the very act of identification with and maintenance of outwardly established and set places of worships for conscience sake. Through the appearance of immanent Presence upon their consciousness and conscience, they laid down even the valuation of set and established places of worship because they were come into the valuation of the inshining experience of the Light itself in itself as worship in itself. They were come into worship in all things and circumstances for which their was no need for such contrivances. Participation in the maintenance and formation of was participation in the act of usurping the power of the Light itself in itself as sole and sufficient rule and guide in their life and was, for them an act of sin against the inshining Light in their conscience.


It is such a blessing to come upon such testimonies by first Quakers. To know that, as there are today, there are those of us who, those appearance of the Light itself in our conscience we are come out of identification with and participation in all outward forms even set and established places for worship and that the very act of participating in such outwards forms is an act of sin against our very spiritual nature and witness.


You may read Nayler’s piece in whole here: http://www.qhpress.org/texts/nayler/cromwell.html

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