Chapter 19 » 19.09

A gathered people

In 1653 James Nayler (1617?–1660), in his examination before the justices at Appleby, described the experience that led to his throwing in his lot with Friends:

I was at the plough, meditating on the things of God, and suddenly I heard a voice saying unto me, ‘Get thee out from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house’. And I had a promise given with it, whereupon I did exceedingly rejoice that I had heard the voice of that God which I had professed from a child, but had never known him… And when I came at home I gave up my estate, cast out my money; but not being obedient in going forth, the wrath of God was upon me, so that I was made a wonder to all, and none thought I would have lived. But after I was made willing, I began to make some preparation, as apparel and other necessaries, not knowing whither I should go. But shortly afterwards going a gate-ward with a friend from my own house, having on an old suit, without any money, having neither taken leave of wife or children, not thinking then of any journey, I was commanded to go into the west, not knowing whither I should go, nor what I was to do there. But when I had been there a little while, I had given me what I was to declare. And ever since I have remained not knowing today what I was to do tomorrow… [The promise was] that God would be with me, which promise I find made good every day.

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