Day 6: James Nayler

James Nayler (1616-1660) was among the early Quaker leaders. At the peak of his career, he preached against enclosure of lands (that led to the creation of an ownership class) and the slave trade. He gained notoriety when he re-enacted Christ’s entry into Jerusalem by entering Bristol, England on a donkey. He was charged with blasphemy and was imprisoned.

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Nayler riding into Bristol

This also led to a deep separation from and denouncement by George Fox. After leaving prison in 1659 he was a physically ruined man. He repented and was forgiven by Fox. In 1660, he was robbed and left near death in a field. A day later, he made the following statement:

“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; it 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 is conceived in sorrow, and brought forth without any to pity it, nor doth it murmur at grief and oppression. It never rejoiceth 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.”

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