by James Parnell
Born in 1636, died a martyr's death at the age of 19
(Click here to read a short Biography of James Parnell)


     Thomas Bayles, a fellow believer of his time said of James Parnell, "He was an innocent man, and lived in the testimonies and the fear of God; he sought nothing here for himself, but alone labored and travailed, so that the people might be brought to the knowledge and love of God."


     Come! try your faith - all you believers of godliness, of God, and of Christ; who say God is your Father, and Christ is your Redeemer; and that you believe in God, and are saved through faith in Christ. Come! Search the ground and bottom of your faith, upon what it is built; for the faith and hope of the hypocrite perish, (Job 8:13), which stand in words, and on an unsteady foundation.

     You say, you are saved by the blood of Christ, and by his stripes you are healed; so would make Him the ground of your faith. But from what are you saved? And of what are you healed? Search within and see. Christ came to save and redeem sinners from their sins, and to heal them of its wound, - to bruise the serpent's head, - to bind the strong man and cast him out of his house; to open the prison doors, to set at liberty the imprisoned, and to lead captivity captive; cast antichrist out of the temple of God, who sits there as God, and says he is God. And Christ came to rend that veil of darkness, open the eyes of the blind, and to unstop the deaf ears, - and to make blind those that can see, and to make deaf those that can hear; to give strength to the weak, and to make weak those that are strong; to feed the hungry, and to starve the full; to make a separation between the precious and the vile, between the wheat and the tares - the sheep and the goats; and to purchase to man, that which man has lost.

     To this end He came. And they who can witness this, can witness Him, and may claim a possession of Him, and have an assurance of their salvation; and their faith will stand against the beast, and overcome; for the Lamb shall get the victory.

     But they who cannot witness this, cannot witness Christ, and so are the reprobates concerning the faith. Now here - all you drunkards are shut out; all you swearers are shut out; all you scoffers, and backbiters, revilers, extortionists, and envious ones, and of gamblers, and who take pleasure in sports are shut out. And all you self-righteous believers who live in the fashions and customs of the world, delighting in the pleasures and vanities of the world, and having fellowship with it, whose conversation is among the children of the world; all in one generation, cleansing only the outside of the cup, while the inside is full of lust and filthiness, pride, covetousness, and all uncleanliness; you are a whitewashed wall and painted tomb who deceives the carnal eye and ear: - but the Lord searches the heart. You are all shut out of the true faith, which purifies the heart; the serpent [your selfish spirit] is the head in you, and your strong man keeps the house, and a stronger man than he has not yet come; but the antichrist sits in the Kingdom [the ego which rules in your heart is antichrist] as an "angel of light;" and the wound of sin is still fresh - the veil of darkness is spread over you, and death reigns.  Christ lies low in the manger, and the inn is taken up with other guests. And here, you can claim no possession of the blood of Christ; you have nothing to do to talk of God and Christ, and you have no right assurance of your salvation, {only what you read and others tell you}

     All your faith is vain, and your hope is vain; and the foundation thereof is sandy, and will not stand in the day of trial, but will be as a broken reed to lean upon. And all your prayers and praises, singings, graces, baptisms, and sacraments, upon which you build your faith, and think to be of value, are in vain, being offered up from an unclean heart.

     For how can your hearts be clean while you live in sin? For sin lodges in your hearts; and while sin is there, purity cannot dwell there; nothing that is pure can come forth from an unclean vessel. God does not put his treasure in an unclean vessel. He is pure and receives nothing that is impure. And here, all your faith is shown to be vain; for you destroy your faith out of your own mouths, who say you believe you shall never overcome sin so long as you are in this world, and that you shall never be made free from sin. And here you show that your faith is not built upon Christ, who came to destroy the works of the devil and to cleanse from all sin. And they whose faith was built upon Him did witness it, and said, "The blood of Christ has cleansed us from all sin; and they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts thereof, which are the ground of sin; and he that believes is born of God; and he that is born of God cannot commit sin." So now, what right assurance have you of your salvation; or upon what is your faith built, when both Christ and the scriptures testify against you? Faith, which is not built on the rock, Christ Jesus, is vain, and perishes; and he who hath the {right} hope in him, purifies himself, even as He is pure. Here your faith is searched, tried and proved, and is found all vain and perishing; and so is not built upon the Rock, which perishes not.

     Therefore, come down, all you high-minded Pharisees; lay aside all your professions; throw down all your old building, and begin to lay a new foundation. For the higher the Pharisee climbs, the greater will be his fall; and he that will be wise must first a fool; for man by his own wisdom knows not God. Therefore the Pharisee, who stands in his own wisdom, is shut out from the saving knowledge of God.

     And all you willfully blind, carnal, ignorant tares, whom my soul pities, when I see how ignorantly you are led, who pin your faith on the sleeves of your forefathers, blind in lightness and wantonness, spending youth in vanity, in gambling, pleasure and sports: in drunkenness, swearing, and lying; in vain talk and foolish jestings; in pride, lust and filthiness; and say, you follow your forefathers; and that your pleasures are pastime and recreation; and your vain talk and foolish jesting is pastime and merriment; and so you pass your time away, and say your drinking, and rioting, feasting, are good fellowship and neighborly: and so you cover your iniquities. But, woe unto him that hides his sin, and covers his iniquity! All this will profit you nothing; neither can your forefathers excuse you before the Lord. For in the beginning Eve could not justify Adam, nor excuse him; but he was condemned, because he listened to her voice, an disobeyed the Lord. Thus Adam suffered for his own sin, and so did Eve for her sin. And so it will be no excuse for you in the day of account, to say you followed your forefathers, and did as they did before you. But then will the Lord say, Because you followed the traditions and fashions, the customs and inventions of men, and have hearkened to the voice of the serpent, and have disobeyed my voice and command, and slighted my counsel, and would none of my reproof; but cast my law behind your backs, and trampled my mercy under foot, and have turned my grace into wantonness, and have spent my creatures upon your lusts; and have stoned, stocked, buffeted, imprisoned, and shamefully ill-treated my messengers, which I sent unto you to forewarn you of your iniquity, and have killed my Son; therefore, Depart from me, you workers of iniquity. (I know you not,) into everlasting torment, prepared for the devil and his angels.- See now how vain your hope is and how un-steadfast is your faith, when you have more assurance of  your damnation, than of your salvation; for the Lord said, no unrighteous person can enter his kingdom, nor any unholy, unclean thing, {and 'I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin.' John 8:34}

     Therefore, all you who desire salvation to your souls, try and prove your faith and hope, in which you trust; and take heed of trusting to a broken reed, for fear it deceive you. Experience has taught you that if the foundation of a building is decayed and wasted and come to nothing, the building will fall when a storm comes. Therefore, he that thinks he stands, beware that you might not fall. And all of you, whose desires are after righteousness, pay attention to that in your consciences, which creates desires for righteousness, and which shows you the vanity of your lives, which checks you when you do wrongly, and troubles and torments you when you have done any evil act: be willing and if you are willing to be guided by that, and it will lead you to repentance and newness of life, and to forsake those things which it discovers to be contrary to the will of God. And if you are willing to follow your conscience, and to be guided by it, you will find a Teacher continually present, checking you in your conscience for vain thoughts, and for vain, idle, and needless words and actions; and this will crucify the lust which is the root of these things; it will lead you out paths of death, into the way of life; the traditions, customs, fashions, and opinions of the world, into the assurance of the Eternal Truth. And you who are willing to follow this, and to be guided by this, shall need no man to teach you; but it will be a Teacher to you, teaching and directing you in righteousness, purity, and holiness; and if you are diligent in keeping your mind turned within, with an ear open to the pure voice, you shall find it present with you wherever you are in the fields, in your bed, in markets, in company, or wherever you are; when your outward priest or teacher is absent or far off, it will be present with you, and will check you and condemn you for that which no outward eye can see, and will cleanse your heart from lust, and deceit, and uncleanness; and will purify your heart, and make it a fit temple for purity to dwell in; and then your sacrifices will be pure, which come from a pure heart, and the Lord will accept them.

     But, if you would attain to this, you must be willing to deny your lusts, your vanity, your delights, and whatever has been your life. For Christ has declared whoever will save his life, shall lose it, and whoever will lose his life for my sake, shall find it. So there is no obtaining life, but through death; no obtaining the crown, but through the cross. Therefore you must deny yourself, and take your daily cross, and follow Christ, if you would be his disciple, and give up yourself wholly to be guided by the will of God, that all which is contrary to the will of God, may crucified, (though it be ever so dear or close to you), and be forsaken; lands or wife or children, friends and acquaintances, or all the world, and all delights in the world, for the Lord has said, 'He that loves anything more than me, is not worthy of me.'

     So the Lord God Almighty prosper all the tender desires, which are raised up to Him, and feed the hungry and thirsty souls, as he has promised, and raise up his own in all His children, that he alone may be glorified, praised, and honored, who is worthy, to whom all belongs.

     And this is the desire of his soul, who is a servant of the Lord; who is hated and reviled, and derided by the world, because he has no fellowship with it, or with its vanities; but testifies against its ways, fashions, traditions, customs, fellowships, words, and worships; and sees them all to be formal limitations, and the invention of men, out of the covenant of God, and therefore cannot but deny them: and for this cause he is hated by all, both priest and people; whose name according to the world is:

James Parnell


This was written in 1653, when Parnell was seventeen years of age. 

More Articles by James Parnell

Letters by James Parnell

CHRIST Exalted Into His THRONE and the SCRIPTURE Owned in its Place

Final Letters to the Faithful Written From Prison