The Six Principles
In 1656 John Reeve wrote a letter to Alice Webb (a copy of which can be found in "A Stream from the Tree of Life") where he set out the six foundations of Muggletonianism, "which to understand is life eternal and to be ignorant of them is death eternal"
1 What the person of the true God is, and his divine nature.
2 What the persons of the holy angels are and their nature
3 What the persons of the Devils are and their natures, and what the person of the devil was before he became a devil, and begot millions of dark angels or devils, it being all one.
4 In what condition the man Adam was created in and by what means he lost his first estate and the effects of it
5 What heaven and glory is, and the eternal residence of it
6 What hell and eternal death is , and the place where it shall be to eternity.
In February of 1661 these principles were restated by Lodowick Muggleton in a letter to Ellen Sudbury (a copy of which can be found in the "Volume of Spiritual Epistles") where he stated that "Upon the knowledge of these six principles dependeth the eternal happiness of man"
1 To know the true God, his form and nature
2 The right devil, his form and nature
3 The place and nature of Heaven
4 The place and nature of Hell
5 The persons and nature of angels
6 The mortality of the soul
Muggleton goes on to say that "though I have named six principles, yet whoever doth but understand two, namely the true God and the right devil; upon these two dependeth the other four"
In addition to these six principles there were three further crucial beliefs, that of the two seeds, the matter of immediate notice, and the authority of the prophets.
The person and nature of God
From "A General Epistle From The Holy Spirit":
"Again, it is hid from your eyes, that there is no Spirit without a body or form, hath any living being, nor never had, neither of God the Creator from eternity, nor Angels or man created in time. Again, it is hid from your eyes, that from eternity the Creator was a spiritual body or person in the form of a man, having all parts in immortality, as man hath in mortality, who was created in his Spirit within like unto God, and in his form without like unto God also ; only his fleshly form was natural and earthly, and God's form was spiritual and heavenly. Again, because you preach without a commission you understand not that the eternal spiritual form, both Father and Son, was a spiritual God and man in one person or form from all eternity; and so it being impossible to divide them, unseparably the immortal God, Father and Son, did as beforesaid, lay down their eternal immortal glory in the Virgin's womb together, and did transmute their spiritual glory both together into pure mortality, of flesh, blood, and bone, and in that body of flesh they did raise unto themselves new transcendant glory from elect men and angels, in revealing unto them the wonderful spiritual mystery of the whole Godhead, clothing itself with flesh, in the person of a man; therefore it is written, 'For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily :' again, From his fulness we all receive grace for grace.' "
In short God is not spirit, he has a body with parts like a man's, after all man was created in God's image, there can be no spirit without body. As is written in Part two chapter five of "The Acts of the Witnesses":
"15. We answered, and said, Can a Man worship God in Spirit and Truth without a Body? He said, No. Then said I, neither can God accept of any Mans worship except he hath a Body of his own: For God hath a Body of his own, as Man bath a Body of his own; only God's body is spiritual and heavenly clear as Christial, brighter than the Sun, swifter than Thought, yet a body.
16. For Man's body is earthly, and made of the Earth, in the image and likeness of God's own body, only Man's body is of the Earth earthly, and God's body is the Lord from Heaven heavenly: Yet Man's body is the image of God as well as his Soul as Moses did truly mean as he spake."
Muggletonians worshiped a Man God, who was Jesus. When Jesus died on the cross God died. As Thomas Tomkinson wrote at page 79 of "Truths Triumph":
"9. Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom of God: these are great mysteries; I want words to set it forth, but although it is life, joy, and glory in all the elect to understand and believe this doctrine of the nature of redemption from sin and wrath, yet it is so high and glorious, that none of the contrary seed can receive it, they having not the hearing ear; wherefore say they, how can your God be eternal, and yet was dead; to which I answer, but as a paradox to that seed, whose eyes are veiled, and ears unbored.
10. Oh, you children of error and unbelief, rest where you are, and where no rest is, whilst we are made to know, and believe that our God, the Lord Jesus Christ, was dead, and is alive, and behold he lives for evermore; nay further, and that our God was dead and alive at one and the same time; for the virtue of his everlasting word was existent, and stood as God, whilst his God-head passed through death more swift than thought;"
The person and nature of the devil
From Chapter 6 of "A Transcendent Spiritual Treatise"
"13. For ever since the angel-serpent, by his wise cursed counsel, took possession of the garden of God, the bodies of our first parents ; I declare, from the Holy Spirit, that there is no devil at all without the body of man or woman, but what dwells within the bodies of men and women ;
14. So that that devil, so frequently spoken of in the letter of the Scripture, that tempts men and women to all unrighteousness, it is man's spirit of unclean reason, and cursed imagination, that insatiably lusteth after things that perish, until the Holy Spirit of faith enters into the man, and purifies his unclean spirit, and reveals unto his dark understanding spiritual and glorious durable things;"
The persons and nature of the angels
From Chapter 3 of the "Divine Looking Glass":
"2. I declare also, that the angelical host were all produced by his word speaking into that dust without or above this visible heavens.
3. Moreover, I positively affirm from the same light, that all the angels in the heavenly throne aforesaid are persons in forms like men, and not bodiless spirits, as the learned have long declared,"
The place and nature of Heaven
Chapter 8 of the "Divine Looking Glass" contains this passage:
"3. My spiritual brethren, which have ears to hear, hearken unto the pure light of life eternal. There are three created heavens spoken of in scripture records, and no more, no, nor never was any more, whatever vain men have imagined.
4. The first is that third heaven of visible and invisible ravishing glories which are eternal ; this is that vast kingdom where the persons of the mighty angels and glorified bodies of Moses and Elias do now inhabit, beholding the face of that most excellent majesty, whose divine nature unto his elect is crowns of unutterable excellencies.
5. This is that habitation, third heaven, throne, or kingdom of ravishing glory above the starry heaven, spoken of so frequently in scripture records, which is needless to nominate unto you which are spiritual."
And From "Joyful News From Heaven", at the first chapter of A True Description of Heaven and Hell:
3. Moreover, you must not imagine the kingdom of glory to be in a global condition, as this world is ; no, it is no such matter.
4. But, of the contrary, it is a kingdom of an infinite vastness, in height, length, or breadth, suitable to an infinite glorious Majesty. Furthermore, the world to come is a boundless kingdom, that lieth all open, that the persons of our God, elect men and angels, may, as we use to say, have free egress and regress for divine pleasure, to ascend or descend as high or as low as they think good, to all eternity."
The place and nature of Hell
Starting at Verse 15 of Chapter 5 of a "General Epistle to Ministers" the Prophets wrote:
"Again, from the Lord, I declare what the condition of the reprobate is, and where it is.
Thus it shall be to all eternity : this whole creation—as, namely, the visible heavens, above the firmament, with the sun, moon, and stars—shall vanish, and be put out as the snuff of a candle, never giving light more, because the decreed time of their being is finished, they only being appointed for lights of this creation, or mortal world.
The earth also shall be burnt up : that is, all the nature or sap, which is the heart of the earth, shall be burnt up, with all natural food remaining upon the earth, and in the sea, and in the air ;
The sea, and all rivers and water-springs, being dried up for ever, because their decreed time is fully ended.
Then this world, or whole creation, will become as a barren wilderness, that is burnt up with heat, and a chaos of everlasting confusion, of utter darkness, for ever : yea, as dark as the darkness of Egypt, both for spiritual darkness and natural darkness ; not three days and three nights, but even to all eternity.
Then shall all reprobates, men and women, appear in the same natures, souls and bodies, that they lived and died in, or fell asleep ; and they shall have the same senses and reason they had before.
And they shall perfectly remember all their former glory, with all their former cruelty ; and, according to their deeds, they shall receive their everlasting punishment, in the same bodies they delighted in sin.
Their own bodies must be their prison of hell, and their own unclean spirit of reason, the devil, that shall be barred close prisoner within their bodies, that they cannot have one motion, or thought, of any spiritual or natural comfort, because they are both departed for evermore.
Then shall the spirit of man be a more terrible fire than any natural fire or brimstone whatsoever ; the body being all on fire, the which flesh and bone is the fuel of hell ; the spirit which is the devil, now an eternal prisoner within the body, causing unspeakable lamentations, and gnashings of teeth.
And the chief ground of their sorrows is this, because their body, which was formerly their only heaven, is now become their only hell ; and their proud spirit, which formerly was their only God, is now become their only devil ; being both prisoners together in hellish darkness, being barred from the presence of God, elect men, and angels, to all eternity.
Again, I declare, from the Lord, that in the same place where the bodies of men and women do appear at the resurrection, there shall they remain, naked as they were born, never stirring from that place ; either standing, sitting, or lying along ; hearing one another's lamentations, but never seeing one an-other's faces, to all eternity.
And, instead of singing new songs and praises unto God, they shall, because of their unspeakable misery, blaspheme the name of God continually with new curses, because their miseries are everlastingly increasing anew, according as the songs of the elect are newly increasing, causing new songs of joy to all eternity. "
The mortality of the soul
At Chapter five of "An Answer to William Penn":
"But the Scripture saith, and so do we, that nothing doth or call die, but life only ; so that it may be clear to those that are not stone-blind, that the soul of man is mortal and doth die, neither can it be separated from the body, but as both are begot together, and both born together, so both live together, and both die together, and both are laid in the grave together until the resurrection. God shall raise that dead soul into a new life, and that new life shall have a new body, even as the grain of wheat leaving the old body behind in the earth, and bringeth forth a new body with increase; so shall the soul of man, when it is quickened again by the powerful word of God, it shall bring forth a new body, every seed its own body, with increase, to the righteous increase of joys eternal, and to the wicked increase of eternal miseries."
The Two Seeds
In The second part, Chapter two of "Truths Triumph" it reads:
"5. For in Abraham was two seeds, faith and reason, or flesh and spirit, and so there is in every man and bath been ever since the Sons of God, namely, the sons of Seth took them wives of the daughters of men, that is the daughters of wicked men, the sons of Cain,
6, Thus these two seeds were brought in conjunction in one soul by the Sons of God going into the daughters of men, and so the two seeds came to be mixed in one person in the moment of his conception, and according to the force and predominancy of each seed in the time of conception so will its growth be.
7. Therefore look what seed was uppermost in time of conception, that seed will grow up above the other, (or at leastways in time get mastery, by being capable to receive a word of faith to the raising of it up) and so became Lord, as for example, Abraham's good seed which was the seed of faith, was predominant in Isaac's conception, but this bad seed, which was the seed of reason, which in scripture is called flesh, was uppermost in Ishmaell's conception."
This is the teaching that caused several revolts in the movement, largely because it was a teaching on which Reeve and Muggleton had differing views. Muggleton wrote in a letter of 1671 to Believers in the Commission (published in "A Stream from the Tree of Life") that is worth quoting from at length:
"And further I say, that whoever doth not act well, by that Law written in his Heart, and doth not stand in Awe of that, and fear to offend that Law of Conscience, as if God himself did Stand by, and take notice of all his Actions ; therefore he doth well, because God's Eye is over him, else not. I say, all his well-doing is but Eye-service, and respected of God no more than the cutting off a Dog's Neck. And that Man is in the Depth of Darkness, who will do nothing that is good, except God doth take notice of him, to reward him for every good Deed he doth; but if he doth Evil, then he desireth God to take no notice of it, but blot it out of his Remembrance, as if God were beholden to Man to do well, when there is a Blessing in the Deed doing, and a Curse in evil-doing. But this I say, if there were no God to reward the Good, nor to punish the Evil, yet could not I do any otherwise than I do ; for I do well, not because I expert any Reward from God, or refrain from Evil, because God will punish me, or that he doth mind me in it ; but I do well to please that Law written in my Heart, so that I might not be accused by that Law in my Conscience, as God hath placed for his Watchman, to tell me when I do well : So am I justified by Faith in God, in my own Conscience, and being not condemned by the Law written in my Heart, I have Boldness to the Throne of Grace. Neither do I refrain from Evil for fear of God's Person seeing me, and he seeing me will punish me ; but I refrain from Evil, because the Law written in my Heart seeth all my Doings, and that Watchman God hath set there to watch me, will tell God of all my Doings ; so that God need not trouble himself to watch over every Man's Actions himself, for he hath placed his Law a Watchman in every Man and Woman, to give notice of all their Doings, whether good or evil.
Thus, in the Original, God taketh notice by his Law, written in every Man's Heart, both of Saint and Devil ; and no otherwise doth God mind to take notice of his Saints in particular at all. Not that I do own this Law written in Man's Heart to be the very God, as the Quakers do ; but God is a distinct Person of himself, and distinct from this Law written in Man's Heart. And in this Sense, God may be said to take no notice of his Saints, nor doth not mind them at all."
And from his letter to the leader of the revolt, Walter Bohenan dated January 23 1671:
"And whereas you say and affirm that I am fallen from the Truth, is not this the Word of a Rebel, that learned and was taught the Way of Truth, and what Truth is ; neither had you any Light or Truth at all, but what you received from me, your Lord and Master ; and yet the Spirit of Rebellion in you is grown so wise to judge your Master that taught you, to be fallen from Truth, so that you know how to teach your Mailer better than he can teach you. But how can I expect any better from the Spirit of Rebellion? Also you say, I would make you believe Lies : Who made you a Judge, what is a Lie, and what is Truth ? You say, I go about to over throw John Reeve, and that I would make you believe many Lies, contrary to all the Prophets and John Reeve's Writings :
To this I say, What have you to do with John Reeve's Writings, now he is dead? Neither have you to do with the Prophets nor Apostles Writings; they are all given into my Hands, that is alive, and you ought all to be taught of me that am alive, or else you cannot be taught of God. And whereas you say, I contradict John Reeve :
To this I say, I have Power so to do, and I had Power so to do when he was alive, and did contradict him in some Things, when he was alive; and John Reeve wrote some Things that was Error to me, and Error in which I did oppose him in to his Face, and he could not deny it. And yet notwithstanding John Reeve was infallible, and did write by an unerring Spirit. This will seem a Riddle, except it be unfolded thus : As to the doctrinal Part contained in our Writings, the six Principles were written by an unerring ark infallible Spirit in John Reeve, and the Interpretation of Scripture written by him was infallible ; but John Reeve's Experience and Apprehension of God's taking immediate Notice of every Man and Woman immediately from his own Person, this was Error in John Reeve's Judgment and Experience, as I did prove to his Face ; but the Things being written before, and they were of no Consequence as to eternal Happiness, they were let pass. Besides none can judge of a Prophet's Writing or Judgment, but he that is equal in Power and Judgment with him. Being chosen of God, I had Power to contradict him in his Judgment ; and though it was Error, it would have been Rebellion in any Believer to do as' I did. And now, I being the last Liver, it is Rebellion in you to call any Thing Lies or Error that I do justify to be true; for none is to call me to an Account, or to resist my Judgment in spiritual Things or Matters, but God only. And I am lure he bath and will justify me in what I have done, and in what I do of this Nature. Besides, where Men are chosen equal in Power, they may contradict one the other in some Things, and yet both infallible Men in Doctrine, but not in Judgment and Practiced."
The Authority of the Prophets
Reeves second publication, credited to both himself and Muggleton "A General Epistle from the Holy Spirit" commences with the statement that:
"Wherefore, if any Man in the World, shall be left to despise this writing, from the greatest to the least, by calling of it blasphemy, a devil, delusion, or a, lie ; in so doing they have committed that unpardonable sin against the holy Spirit that sent us : wherefore, from the presence of the Lord Jesus, elect men and an-gels, we pronounce them cursed and damned soul and body, to all eternity."
A rejection of the Commission would lead to damnation, this is one of the reasons why Muggletonians were so wary of evangelism. If the revelation was rejected the hearer would be damned. For this reason the commission was not preached promiscuously, rather the commission was generally explained only those who showed an interest and were perceived to be ready to accept the truth. The prophets were in many ways the physical reality of the Holy Spirit. Of course Muggletonians neither believed in spirit (separated from the body) or in the Trinity." A General Treatise of the Three Records" (printed in "Sacred Remains") states at Chapter 3 that
"Again, I declare by revelation from the Lord Jesus, that the two witnesses spoken of in the eleventh chapter of the Revelations, is the third or last dispensation, or commission of God, unto the elect world ; and that JOHN REEVE, and LODOWICK MUGGLETON are those two witnesses or ministers of the last commission of the Holy Spirit, unto the end of the world.
Again, I declare from the Lord, that this dispensation of the Holy Spirit hath no ordinances or observances annexed unto it, but is all spiritual; neither are there any visible natural signs tied unto it, nor wonders to satisfy devils that this commission is from the Lord ; this commission being only spiritual, as it is written, " And if any man will hurt them, fire proceedeth out of their mouths, and devoureth their enemies."
For God hath put the two-edged sword of his Spirit into their mouths, that, upon their pronouncing God's curse upon their enemies, the fire of God's wrath seizeth upon their spirits to all eternity ; because they that despise them have sinned against the Holy Ghost ; because we only are the ministers of the Holy Spirit, to declare unto man what is the worship indeed that God requires of his elect, until the coming of Jesus Christ.
Again, God hath honoured them with the spirit of discerning his elect, that, upon their pronouncing them blessed, they increase in understanding of the scriptures from the Holy Spirit, and are blessed to all eternity."
The authority of the Prophets allowed them to bless and curse, a crucial element in establishing their authority as their curses appeared to have an uncanny ability to assign the subject to an early grave. This power was delegated to individual Muggletonians and was in use as late as the mid 19th century. The Prophet Reeve came perilously close to committing his authority to a timetable of events when in a letter of August 15 1656 (published in "A Stream from the Tree of Life") he stated that:
"Again, if the Lord Jesus do not bear Witness unto our Testimony, and make it evident that he hath sent us in a few Months, than you may conclude, that , there never was any true Prophets nor Christ, nor Apostles, nor Scripture spoken from the Mouth of God to Men."
Luckily it was possible (just) to interpret this statement as something other than the millenarianistic prediction that it clearly was.
The claims of any religion rests on the legitimacy of the revelation on which that religion is based, Muggleton and Reeve made some very clear pronouncements under the authority of their revelation which (as it turned out) doomed the sect to eventual extinction. Their statements concerning the light of heavenly bodies, the location of such bodies and the firmament made adherence to the faith increasingly difficult in the age of science. As the sects distinctiveness rested solely on the authority of the prophets the movement could not survive that authority, and the revelation on which it was based, being undermined.