AFTER the departure of Burrough and Howgill from London at the mid-year 1655, the burden of the work in the metropolis was taken up by James Nayler, an able preacher and public disputant, who combined the appearance of a rustic with charm of manner, and intellectual power with a tender and sympathetic spirit and an almost excessive conscientiousness. He carried the burden of the work in London until the spring of 1656 when Edward Burrough returned.
Meanwhile some women Friends, of whom Martha Simmonds was the leader, had become disturbing elements in the meetings in London and elsewhere. They had refused to heed the counsels of Friends and had been reproved for their conduct by Burrough and Howgill. They appealed to Nayler for "justice." He took a very individualistic view of spiritual leading; this, with his natural sympathy, made him hesitate to condemn them. He came more and more under the influence of Martha and her companions, who flattered him and tried to set him against Fox and the other leaders who had condemned them, and they appealed to a latent jealousy of Fox's spiritual authority in Nayler who was overwrought with his London tasks.
These women and a few men Friends perverted the idea of the Christ within the believer, and persuaded Nayler that he was such an outstanding example of Christ manifest in the soul that worship could properly be paid to him. At the end of July he went to Bristol where his companions