James Nayler was a prominent leader in the early Society of Friends in England. Though a farmer by trade, and a man of limited education, his deep spiritual understanding, piercing discernment, and powerful preaching of the gospel caused multitudes to acknowledge that he spoke in the demonstration of the Spirit and power, as one having authority, and not as the scribes. Sadly, he is best known for a single (and deeply regretted) act of folly committed in a time of weakness and temptation, when, “because of the abundance of revelation” and the unchecked flattery of a few imprudent admirers, he accepted greater praise than is due to any man. The Lord, however, brought him to a clear sight and sense of his error, and having heartily renounced and repented for all wrong, he was restored to fellowship and usefulness in the body of Christ for the remainder of his days.
When I came there, I found it was James Nayler preaching to the people; and with such power and reaching energy, as I had not till then been witness of. I could not help staying a little, although I was afraid to stay; for I was made a Quaker, being forced to tremble at the sight of myself. I was struck with more terror by the preaching of James Nayler, than I was at the battle of Dunbar, when we had nothing else to expect, but to fall a prey to the swords of our enemies, without being able to help ourselves. I clearly saw the cross to be submitted to, so I dared stay no longer, but got off, and carried condemnation for it in my own breast.- An Officer under Oliver Cromwell
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Selected Writings of
with a Short Biographical Sketch
A selection of some of the greatest writings of James Nayler, together with a short biographical sketch relating his early eminence in the Society of Friends, his fall (evinced in the Bristol incident), his open acknowledgement of error and sincere repentance, and his subsequent restoration to fellowship and usefulness in the body of Christ.