Quaker Heritage Press > Online Texts > Works of James Nayler > Diary of Thomas Burton
The Parliamentary Diary is ascertained, by various internal evidences,...to have been written in the House of Commons by Thomas Burton, Esquire, M.P. for Westmorland. It is now first printed from his original notebooks, which came, a few years since, into the possession of Mr. Upcot of the London Institution.
In the Painted Chamber sat James Nayler's Committee. Nayler was called to answer to a new charge touching some unseemly communications between him and Martha, his fellow prisoner. She stroked his head, and sat breast to breast, and desired him to go with her. He answered, he was not free, and several other particulars.
The Committee was ready to rise till Mr. Carey and Mr. Lister came in and desired that Nayler might be asked something as to the substance of the whole charge against him. The sense of the Committee was against asking him any more questions, lest it should intricate the report; yet, for their satisfaction, that all might be clear, he was admitted to speak; and being asked if he had any more to say he told us that he doubted some had a design to entangle his innocency, and instanced in something that one said, the other day, at the Committee (it was Mr. Downing), "We have gotten enough out of him." Nayler <601> said, this hath stuck upon his spirit ever since.
Yet, by good providence, the gentlemen that doubted were more confirmed by his second answer; and acknowledged he said more, materially, in these last words, than in all the other times of his examination. The words were thus: "I do abhor that any honor due to God should be given to me, as I am a creature. But it pleased the Lord to set me up as a sign of the coming of the Righteous One, and what has been done as I passed through these towns, I was commanded by the Lord to suffer such things to be done by me, as to the outward, as a sign, not as I am a creature."
Mr. Bampfield offered a report from James Nayler's Committee.
Sir Gilbert Pickering moved that the report for registers might be heard.
Resolved, That Nayler's report be heard.
Dr. Clarges. The order of the day was the bill of sale.
Mr. Bampfield reported these resolutions:
That the matter of fact and the resolutions of the committee was ordered to be reported.
A short history of Nayler's life.
1. Born near Wakefield.
2. In the service nine years, till he fell sick.
3. A member of an independent church, but cast out for blasphemy and suspicion of lewdness with one Mrs. Roper.
4. After he had been up and down, he went to visit the Quakers in Cornwall, where he was committed as a wanderer; his principles being, that he may lie with any woman that is of his own judgment.
The articles against him read, and summed thus—
That he assumed the gesture, words, names, and attributes of our Savior Christ.
Major-General Skippon. I do not marvel at this silence. Every man is astonished to hear this report. I am glad it is come hither; I hope it will mind you to look about you now. It is now come to your doors, to know how you that bear witness of Christ, do relish such things. God's displeasure will be upon you if you do not lay out your especial endeavors in the things of God; not to postpone them. You are cumbered about many things, but I may truly say this, unum necessarium.
It has been always my opinion, that the growth of these things is more dangerous than the most intestine or foreign enemies. I have often been troubled in my thoughts to think of this toleration; I think I may <602> call it so. Their great growth and increase is too notorious, both in England and Ireland; their principles strike both at ministry and magistracy.
Many opinions are in this nation (all contrary to the government) which would join in one to destroy you, if it should please God to deliver the sword into their hands. Should not we be as jealous of God's honor as we are of our own? Do not the very heathens assert the honor of their gods, and shall we suffer our Lord Jesus thus to be abused and trampled upon?
Wherefore do you sit in that chair, but to bear witness of the truth? to know who are for Christ, who not? My conscience would fly in my face, if I should be silent. Lay these things to heart, and make it not an ordinary concernment.
I am as tender as any man to lay impositions upon men's consciences, but in these horrid things. I have been always against laws for matters ex post facto; but in this, I am free to look back, for it is a special emergency. You would extend to punishment. This offense is so high a blasphemy that it ought not to be passed. For my part, I am of opinion that it is horrid blasphemy, and ought to be punished as blasphemy; and you ought not to let it slip through your fingers without due punishment. I know not how to extenuate the offense, or I should set myself to it.
Major-General Boteler. Though my indisposition might plead for my silence, yet I should go out with a troubled conscience if I should not have borne my witness against it. We all sit here, I hope, for the glory of God. My ears did tingle and my heart tremble to hear the report. I am satisfied that there is too much of the report true. I have heard many of the blasphemies of this sort of people; but the like of this I never heard of. The punishment ought to be adequate to the offense. By the Mosaic law, blasphemers were to be stoned to death. The morality of this remains, and for my part, if this sentence should pass upon him, I could freely consent to it.
If we vindicate not the name of Christ in this, he will vindicate himself.
They are generally despisers of your government, contemn your magistracy and ministry, and trample it under their feet.
The magistrate is to be a terror unto evil works. If we punish murder and witchcraft, and let greater offenses go, as heresies and blasphemy, which is under the same enumeration; for my part, I could never reconcile myself nor others to leave out the latter and punish the former offenses.
It is not intended to indulge such grown heresies and blasphemies as these, under the notion of a toleration of tender consciences. He <603> that sets himself up in Christ's place, certainly commits the highest offense that can be.
Sir Gilbert Pickering. Debate not the punishment till you be possessed of the matter of fact, which must be read in parts to agree with the Committee.
Old Mr. Rouse. First put the report to the question, either in part or in gross, and when you have agreed that it is blasphemy, and that you have an antichrist amongst you, then you will not, I hope, be at a stand what to do.
Mr. Downing. This man, in short, makes himself God; only distinguisheth by the visible and invisible. God is invisible, as in his own being. This distinction is threadbare.
The heathen, they worship not the stock and stone as visible, but as invisible, est Deus in coelis. Christ himself never said that the flesh was God.
Here is no liberty of conscience in this case, for he makes himself God himself. Our God is here supplanted. If he be God, then we must worship him. He is our God as well as the women's God. If a devil, is it fit he should live? Then you will have two Gods.
You know what the Parliament did with a Strafford in civil cases, and what the Parliament has done against corrupt judges. If ever there was a business for a Parliament, this is it. To supplant your God, oh horrid! If such a thing as zeal is to be allowed, certainly in this. And we cannot show too great a detestation of it.
Colonel White. There is something omitted in the Report which Nayler said, and that to me seems as blasphemous as anything: that "the old bottles were broken, and new wine poured in," intimating that he is the new Christ, and the old one laid aside. For my part I am sufficiently convinced of the matter of fact, and would have you first vote that it is horrid blasphemy; and if you make the sentence death, I think he very well deserves it. I shall give my Yea.
Sir William Strickland. The gentleman that did the Report has done it extreme faithfully. I attended the Committee all the time.
If there be such a thing as a traitor, certainly this is he, that sets up himself as a Savior. I would have you first vote the matter of fact whether it be blasphemy or no.
Mr. Solicitor-General [Ellis]. It were fit you should have the party before you at this bar, to hear what he will say to the Report when it is read to him, which is the most orderly in point of law. It is the course of proceedings in all criminal cases. This done, I shall freely give my consent for his punishment, it being as high an offense as can be committed.
Sir William Strickland. I hope you will be as zealous for your <604> Jesus as the heathens were for their Diana of the Ephesians, and that you will bear your testimony against it as solemnly as may be. I desire he may be brought to the bar and hear the report read.
Colonel White. You have matter enough against him. I attended the Report and believe it to be true; but, for general satisfaction, I would have him brought to the bar, and adjourn for an hour, and sit again immediately upon this business.
Mr. Bond. The proceedings against the Archbishop [Laud] was thus: you first agreed the matter of fact, and then drew up a bill, and so brought him to the bar, and then passed sentence upon him. I would have you first vote the matter of fact, that he is guilty of blasphemy, and then send for him.
Lord Strickland. This seems not reasonable, that a man should first be condemned, and then heard. I would have him called to the bar, to hear what he will say to the Report.
Mr. Bedford. I am glad to hear the general sense of the House, so much against this horrid blasphemy. All the eyes of the nation are upon you for it, to see what you will do for God in this business. I would have you not to leave it, but sit forenoon and afternoon till you have done the business.
Major-General Jephson. The Bishop of Canterbury's case was another than this. You were his judges. You are possessed of this business by a Committee already. I would have you put the question, whether this gentleman be guilty of blasphemy or no, and then proceed to know whether you will give sentence upon him yourselves here, or leave him to law. Happily there are some laws yet in force whereby you may proceed against him.
Mr. Attorney-General [Prideaux]. I conceive you have the matter of fact before you, sufficient to ground your indictment upon, for I think it not so needful that you should draw up a charge against him in regard the Report from the Committee is enough. I would have him come to the bar and either confess or deny, &c.
Lord Fiennes. We ought all to bear witness against such a horrid blasphemy, but I would not have you be too hasty, but would have the committee to draw up a charge against him out of the Report, and then call him to the bar to answer this charge.
Mr. Speaker. If you call him to the bar, and he deny it, then you must go over all the charge and the evidence.
Mr. Rouse. The laws against blasphemy and Ranters are in force, and you may proceed upon them; for I doubt you distrust the power which is already in force in this kind, and the government doth not alter the case.
<605> Mr. Bampfield. I should agree with this noble lord, that he might be transmitted to law to be proceeded against, according to those Acts he mentions. I doubt it will be but wholly to lay aside the business, and so render all vain. Your time seems to be short. The putting of it off will be a wholly laying it aside.
If either you refer it back again to the Committee, or call the party to the bar, you must travel into all the evidence, and so render the whole matter fruitless. He has been three times before us, and the Committee was every time more satisfied of the horridness of the blasphemy. I would have you put the question whether he be guilty of horrid blasphemy.
Judge-Advocate Whalley. Let the party be brought to the bar, and the whole matter be read unto him, and then ask him what he has further to say; and then let him withdraw, and so proceed to judgment, both upon the matter of fact and the punishment of the party.
Lord Chief-Justice. I shall not delay your judgment upon this vile wretch; but God would have us proceed in a just way, though against the vilest person.
I am at a stand which way to put in, for your direction. I believe none here can give you a precedent of this nature.
Whatsoever authority was in the Houses of Lords and Commons, the same is united in this Parliament.
The proceedings formerly in this House were only to prepare a charge, and appoint a Committee to prepare evidence. This was transferred to the House of Lords in Lord Strafford's case and the Bishop of Canterbury's. We are not now preparing a charge against Nayler. You put a great trust in a Committee, but how? It is but in order to something to be done here.
That which sticks with me is whether there is a witness against him at all, not one against him upon oath. This is a proceeding against the law of God and the fundamental law of the nation. This House (though they never used it) have power to examine upon oath.
The Report itself is so exactly done that you may easily draw out articles against him, and then call him. Haply he may confess, and then you need no witness. If not, you may examine, if it be but one witness. There must be proof in this case, and that, in this place, to justify your proceedings as agreeable with the fundamental way of proceedings.
Major-General Packer. The Report is a sufficient charge against him. I would have you call him to the bar and hear the charge read, and after you hear what he says, then proceed.
Mr. Robinson. Every man here ought to be satisfied, as fully as may be, before he gives his vote in matters of life. All our judgments are concerned in it. But I would have us not so straiten ourselves in <606> time as to neglect the order of our proceedings. I would have you call him to the bar; if he deny the charge you must allow him his traverse. If he say not guilty, you must prove. Put it off till Monday.
Colonel Markham. You need not fetch witnesses from Bristol. Twenty of the members of this House know the truth of the matter of fact, from Nayler's own confession.
I would have you proceed upon this business in the afternoon, while it is fresh in our memory.
Major-General Desborough.b I know no reason for this speed; for we may offend as well in proceeding and sudden stepping into judgments, especially in matters that concern life, which, when taken, we cannot restore. It is a weighty matter, and you may err on both hands. This is the first occasion that ever we had of this nature, here. I would have us to do things so as to justify us, before both the face of God and the nation too.
I would have it referred to a Committee of the Long Robe, to prepare a way to proceed.
Major-General Goffe. I would not have us too hasty in this matter, but refer it to a Committee, to prepare a way for proceedings in this case against tomorrow or Monday.
Mr. Attorney-General. I think you are sufficiently possessed for your proceeding to judgment in this business; unless in the matter of the oath, which sticks with me most.
Sir Richard Onslow. I think, where confession is, there needs no witness, and as I understand the Report he hath confessed enough. If you had not referred it to a Committee you might have brought him to the bar.
If you declare your judgment upon former laws, then it will not be with the honor of this Parliament to transfer the matter to another judicature, having taken such cognizance of the business wherein the nation expects your result.
In Strafford's case, you proceeded upon the legislative power. I would have you, this afternoon, debate it, whether you will proceed upon the legislative way or the judicatory way. But I would have you preserve your honor, both before the nation and your enemies too.
Mr. Recorder [of London, Sir Lislebone Long]. I appeal to that gentleman, if ever he knew any confession of the party before a Committee to be evidence in this House; I know his experience is great. For instance, confession of the party before a Justice of Peace, or Grand Jury, is no evidence. If the party, after, deny it, you must <607> prove it. Proceed which way you will, that cannot be evidence against him which was only confessed at the committee.
It is fit a charge should be prepared, and he brought to the bar. If he confess it, we are then convinced of the truth of the Report, and may proceed to sentence; and it is fit he should know that he is to answer for his life. I would have a charge prepared against tomorrow morning.
Lord Whitlock. This case is new and ought to be seriously considered; for though this wicked fellow deserves all punishment that can be inflicted upon him, that which I fear is the consequence as to future, in the manner of proceedings which may hereafter concern any man's life or fortune. It is a case of blood, and you ought to proceed solemnly, by calling the party hither, and witnesses, if need be. I would have it referred to the Committee to consider of the manner of proceeding against James Nayler.
To send it back to any inferior jurisdiction is below the honor of a Parliament. I would have the Committee to resolve you how you will proceed, whether upon your judicatory or legislative power.
Mr. Bampfield. If I were against anything to be done in this business, I should be for referring it back again to the Committee, for I certainly know this is as much as to say you will do nothing in it; for it will be a work of some weeks.
The whole evidence doth arise upon his own confession. Though no witnesses were sworn before the Committee, yet depositions before magistrates, at Bristol and other places, were taken upon oath. The eyes of God, of all the nation, and all the world, are upon you; and if you lay this aside and do nothing in it, I shall say it is no more Nayler's sin, but set it upon your doors.
I would have him called to the bar this afternoon, or in the morning, seeing so many desire it.
Sir William Strickland. Let him be called to the bar this afternoon, for I would not have our zeal in this business, which seems to be so unanimous, to meet with the least damp or coldness. For my part, I am very well convinced of the matter of fact, having attended the Report for most part, so that we may proceed freely to judgment; yet, for general satisfaction, let the Report be read to him, and demand his answer.
Lord Lambert. It is matter of sadness to many men's hearts, and sadness also to mine, especially in regard of his relation sometime to me. He was two years my quartermaster, and a very useful person. We parted with him with great regret.
He was a man of a very unblamable life and conversation, a member of a very sweet society of an independent church. How he comes (by pride or otherwise) to be puffed up to this opinion I cannot <608> determine. But this may be a warning to us all, to work out our salvation with fear and trembling.
I shall be as ready to give my testimony against him as anybody, if it appear to be blasphemy. You are jurors, judges, and all, in this case. I would have you careful in your manner of proceeding. It deserves consideration: witnesses, viva voce, must be heard here. You ought not to tie your judgments upon any man's eyes or ears, but come to a solemn and serious debate of it. I would have it referred to a Committee. I hope your time will be longer, that you need not scant yourselves in this matter.
I confess I did not think the business to be of this nature, though I heard much rumor of it abroad. It is very much sorrow of my heart, and I hope nothing shall quench my zeal against it; but I would have it regular.
Dr. Clarges and Mr. Butler. This proceeding has been as solemn as could be. The first day that the Committee met it was as like a Grand Committee as could be; for most of the members were there. We are ripe for a question; I would have us not to quench our zeal, but to adjourn for an hour and proceed in the afternoon.
Major-General Skippon. For my part I am fully satisfied with the matter of fact. If you put it off, I fear Nayler's sin will prove a national sin, and consequently a national judgment, for, I fear, to delay it will wholly lose the business. I would have it adjourned till tomorrow morning, and no business to intervene.
Mr. Drake. That is more than you can promise, that nothing should intervene: for if you do it the first business tomorrow, the house will be thinner; and if you enter upon any debate, you know not how long it will hold you. I would not have you delay a matter of this nature, which deserves your speedy and serious care. I would have you adjourn for an hour.
Judge Smith and Mr. Reynell. It might be taken up this afternoon, and adjourn for an hour, and bring Nayler to the bar, and read the whole matter to him.
Colonel Sydenham. We may err as well in our too hasty zeal in this weighty business. It is fit we should well consider of the manner of our proceeding, for the honor of it. For my part, I cannot but bear my testimony against the matter; but in regard it may haply reach to life, let us not do justice in an unjust way. I would have no negative, neither, in this debate, but go on unanimously into the offender's punishment, and in order thereunto, to adjourn till tomorrow morning; that you may fully debate this business.
Mr. Bacon. That we may not lose the benefit of our debate <609> tomorrow, if you do adjourn till then, I hope you purpose not that any should speak again that have spoken to this debate; otherwise your work will be endless. Whereunto the Speaker agreed that none ought to speak again to the debate adjourned.
Mr. Moody. The person himself may be brought hither tomorrow morning.
Resolved, That this debate be adjourned till tomorrow morning, and nothing to intervene.
Mr Bond. Nobody should be suffered to come to him in the meantime.
Major-General Skippon. I doubt, unless you put the question about calling him to the bar tomorrow morning, you'll lose your whole debate. I desire that question may be put.
Major-General Kelsey. If you intend this, something must be determined previous to this vote; how you shall demean yourself, whether to prepare a charge against him or read the Report as it is.
Colonel White. Put the question whether the charge now against him shall be read to him at the bar.
Colonel Whetham. We are surprised in the vote, if we must not resume the debate tomorrow, before Nayler be called.
Lord Cochrane. You will not longer suffer this fellow to personate Christ before your eyes and be so suspensive what you shall do with him. I would have you call him to the bar tomorrow morning, and proceed.
Sir Gilbert Pickering, Major-General Kelsey and Colonel Jones. Put not a question that may preclude the vote of others who think the debate is adjourned. The order of the house is that you should not proceed further.
Major-General Packer. This question is fair, for we that agreed to defer it till tomorrow are also concluded in our vote, for though the debate was adjourned it was in order to the calling him to the bar.
Mr. Nathaniel Bacon and Mr. Downing. It is fit you should keep him close. He has many friends in the city, who may acquaint him with your proceedings, so that he may stand mute, or deny.
Lord Strickland. You ought not to meddle with any debate upon what you have adjourned.
Sir Christopher Pack. By this rule you cannot put a question about letting none come to him; if all further debate in order to the business be excluded.
Sir William Strickland. Such a leper ought to be separated from the conversation of all people. This is no harm to the debate.
Sir Gilbert Pickering. I am against keeping him private, but would have him rather to know the danger he is in, that it concerns his life. <610> Who can tell but the terror of death may so work upon him as that he may retract his errors. I hope there is none here but desire his repentance rather than his ruin. I speak my heart in this thing, though none second me.
Resolved, That he be kept close prisoner till further order of this house.
Mr. Downing proposed that James Nayler be brought to the bar tomorrow morning.
Sir Richard Onslow and Major-General Kelsey. The members are by this means precluded. Haply it will not be thought fit to call him to the bar at all. This was part of the debate which was adjourned, and properly you cannot proceed to put this question.
Lord Claypole. My opinion is against this question; for besides the main objection, other questions will rise about the time, which you cannot determine now, and what you shall say to him when he comes.
Captain Stone and Major-General Skippon. I would have him called to the bar tomorrow, and the report read to him, lest you lose the fruit of this debate and tomorrow too.
Colonel Shapcot. The proper question is to agree with the Committee. Haply you may have no occasion to call him, till sentence.
Colonel Whetham and Mr. Cary. I desire you would inform the House what was the debate that was adjourned. If this about calling Nayler to the bar was not the debate, I beseech you that you would not put this question. Other questions would arise upon it, and you must fetch candles.
Mr. Bedford and Mr. Bacon. It is very considerable that you should be unanimous in this debate, as you have hitherto been; and to the end there should not be a negative at all in the business, I am willing that the question be for the House to adjourn, and to forego the other question.
This debate held till almost four, and then the House adjourned.
The Grand Committee of Religion sat this night.
Colonel Rouse moved for the order of the day, Nayler's.
The House resumed the debate upon the report made yesterday, touching James Nayler, and after debate, he was sent for and heard at the bar of the House. So far in the Diurnal.
I was not at the beginning of the debate, but with the Border's Committee.
Mr. Floyd. I would have you make a court for the trial of Nayler, <611> that you may keep your legislative power, and proceed judicially. It is not only malum prohibitum, but malum in se. It is against the law of God, of nature, and nations too. Though the bishops be taken away, the law against blasphemy is not taken away. I would have a particular court erected to hear and determine.
Lord Strickland. It is a hard case that we should have no law in force to try this gentleman, but you must have recourse to your legislative power. This House never took up that power but upon extraordinary occasions, with a protestando not to draw it into precedent. If there were a law to try him without, others are better judicatories in such cases; but to condemn him first, and then try him, as was offered to you, is very hard.
I think it but fair that he should have a fair trial, to hear what he will say, and hear the witnesses, if they agree in the evidence, and then condemn him or acquit him.
Colonel Cox. This is a matter of great moment. If there had been a law to this purpose, you had not had this trouble.
The eyes of all the nation are upon you for this issue. The world abroad says it is liberty of conscience has brought this fellow before you. I am of the same opinion. I am as much for liberty of conscience as any man, but when one runs into these extravagancies I think he exceeds that liberty.
To the order of your proceedings. First, call the party hither and read the charge, and ask him, guilty or not guilty, and thereupon order your proceeding, before you prepare a bill; for I would have him have all the fair way of trial that may be. It concerns his life.
Resolved, That Mr. Bodurda be heard again to this business.
Mr. Bodurda. I am sorry it should fall to my lot to put you to the question. For my speaking, I rise not to trouble you with long speeches. I find the House divided: some would have him called to the bar; others tried at law. I offer an expedient.
I would have you first put it to the question, whether to agree with the Committee, and whether this be a sufficient charge whereon to arraign this person.
Major-General Desborough. I shall offer an expedient, though haply foolishly: that this fellow may be banished; for life is precious, and you have matter enough, already, to ground such a sentence upon.
Major Audley. I move that his Highness's advice may be desired in it, and yet, in the meantime, that you would provide a law against such blasphemy for the future, and proceed when you have thus advised.
Mr. Church. I desire he may be called to the bar, as often moved. That you would set apart one of these three days, which you have left, <612> to seek God in this business; for if we be not tender in God's honor, he will not honor us. We ought to be zealous in this business as in Achan's case.
Mr. Highland. It would make any tremble to hear these horrid things and to think what this fellow's profession was, and what it is now. To deny God, or to make himself equal with God. We ought to vindicate God's honor, if his name be upon us, but we must honor him as well in the order and justness of our proceedings; not to judge before you hear. All judges are tender in this. You have heard no witness against this man. Let him have a fair trial. I am against his banishment; for you must send him to some of your plantations, and there he will infect more; the like consequence will be if you imprison him. I would have him brought to the bar, and let him hear the charge against him read. Haply he will confess as much as you will desire of him. If he be guilty of these things, let him not longer infect the nation.
Mr. Bampfield. The calling him to the bar is but a mean to delay the business. The great argument is, that you are not to credit what you have from others' eyes or ears. You believe your Committees' Report in all other matters, that concern the lives, liberties and estates of three nations. Nay, without the report of a Committee you have, at one breath, concluded that all the men that have been cut off in the Spanish war were justly cut off, and that shall be cut off in that service; for you have, without further examination, agreed the Spanish war to be undertaken upon just grounds, and you will pursue it. The like has been formerly done, in votes that have cut off the lives of 100,000 persons without any examination. You ought to credit the Committee then, certainly, in a matter of lesser nature, though I would have you tender in this business. You see by the eyes of your Committee, and what they do is the act of this House, I am sure, in other cases.
Again, the manner of the proceeding at this Committee was more solemn and exact than at other Committees; for I believe most of the House were there.
As to that of the want of an oath: we did charge them, in the most solemn manner that we could possibly devise, that they would be careful in what they said, what was the concernment, before whom, in whose presence. We had no power to administer an oath.
But it does not only depend upon these affirmations of the witnesses, but upon Nayler's own confession. There lies the main stress. It was foul enough before, but the ugliness of it, upon his examination and his carriage at the Committee, did more appear than before. It did more than fasten the information, which was but historical to the matter.
He confessed that the woman said these words and expressions, <613> which Mr. Piggott, by providence, came to the Committee and informed: "Rise up, my love, my dove, my fairest one, why stayest thou amongst the pots"; only he denied the woman's kissing his hand.
I conceive you have the matter of fact fully before you, and the objections answered, to the evidence, which wholly depends upon his own confession.
If you bring him to the bar, upon what will you proceed? If you take his answer in parts, then you must debate the parts. If to the whole, he may, with the Archbishop, desire time to answer to it; so you shall know where you begin, but where you will end I know not, if you take this course. The first question ought to be, as it was first moved, whether this offense be blasphemy, or no.
Colonel Sydenham. I should be sorry to spend your time in this business, but I cannot advise you to go a greater pace than ought to be. I know nothing of the shortness of your time; this gentleman, haply knows more of it.
I have met with no argument to convince me that we should agree with the Committee before you hear the party. I would not have such a thing drawn into precedent. 1) It may be any man's case, hereafter, to be accused for an offense, and from the bare Report of a Committee, to have the sentence of death passed upon him without further hearing. This gentleman told you now what a full Committee there was at this examination, and yesterday he told you how hard it was to get a Committee together.
2) If the stress of the whole lie upon his own confession, your work will be easier if you call him to the bar.
3) This gentleman told you that every time that the party went off from the Committee they were more satisfied with the matter of fact than before. I would have this House also satisfied in this.
4) It is said you agree with the Committee in matters of great consequence that concern life and liberty, &c., but you do not undertake to be the executioner. For that of the Spanish war, it differs certainly from this case: we do not draw the blood upon us, for they are and were our enemies.
This Report is of many particulars, and like Strafford's case. The charge is accumulative blasphemies.
Mr. Ashe, the elder. You ought first to declare him guilty of such a crime, then draw up the Bill of Attainder against him, and then call him to the bar. But your previous question is to agree with the Committee.
Mr. Croke. Under favor, this gentleman, though an old Parliament man, is mistaken in the manner of your proceedings. It is against the orders of the House to speak again today, for at this rate I know not <614> where you will end.
We are most of us, as private persons, satisfied with the matter of fact, wherein the worthy reporter has taken a great deal of pains in the faithful report of it. Every man, I hope, that professes the name of Christ, will bear his testimony against this blasphemy.
But, by all rules of law and justice, you ought first to call him to the bar; haply he may deny matter of fact, haply matter of law. He may say it is not blasphemy. I would have him called to the bar.
Major-General Skippon. I move that he may answer positively to the Report.
Sir Gilbert Pickering. I move that it may be respited till Monday. It is now twelve, and it will take your time so long that you will be forced to sit as long as you did yesterday, which will not agree with many men's healths that are here.
Major Beake. You have two questions before you. First, to agree with the Committee. Second, to call Nayler to the bar.
I am for the first. The objection, it seems, lies against the truth of the Report. Certainly greater solemnity could not be at a Committee than was at this Committee; almost 150 there. You have given greater credit to a Committee in matters of property and liberty, instanced in the bills for sale, &c.
A matter of the like nature cannot possibly fall before you as private persons. I presume few of us but do believe that the confession was, re vera, true, and it is fixed in every man's breast. Those that argue from the greatness of the punishment look further than I can divine.
I suppose none can tell what his sentence shall be till the offense be agreed on. If you want a law, who can supply it, as in the case of a Strafford, but a Parliament? Shall punctilios and modalities and forms bind and tie up a Parliament? We are not thus strait-laced; arguments from consequences are not good in these cases, when the nature of the thing ties us punctually to perform it.
Every man is satisfied that this ought highly to be taken notice of. You are no more bound to precedents than in Strafford's case. You may create a form when you please. It is a notorious reflection upon the Committee, to give them absolutely the lie.
If the party stand mute or deny, where are you then? For my part, I conceive your proper question is, to agree with the Committee.
Major-General Goffe. By the orders of the House the other is the proper question.
Captain Baynes. However others look upon Nayler, I look upon him as a man, an Englishman. I would have him so tried as to bring in a bill of attainder against him, or leave him to the law. It is below <615> you to honor him with a trial here; but if it must be otherwise, let him be called to the bar, and proceed judicially against him, lest the precedent be of dangerous and ill consequence to other persons, whose lot it may be, in other cases.
Mr. Bedford. When, in the long Parliament, you did by a law confiscate men's estates and lives and liberty, both in England and Ireland, had you any more, nay so much, evidence as in this case, though, I presume, justly too. For my part, as a private person, I am sufficiently convinced of the matter of fact. Yet, to the end we might be unanimous in this thing, I desire he may be called to the bar and heard: but although he should deny it, I dare affirm it. He did speak blasphemy in my hearing, which is sufficient to conclude my judgment.
Sir William Strickland. I have taken an oath to stand for the liberty of Parliament. I always understood a Report from a Committee to be good evidence against an offender. I would not have this passed without clearing the honor of Parliament. With this salvo for your honor and liberty, for general satisfaction call him to the bar, that all the world may know you do him more liberty than you needed. I would have your proceedings justified as much as may be, and him left inexcusable.
Colonel Briscoe. Qui per alium per se is the case of your Committee, and if you agree with the Committee, what needs further examination? I always understood a Report to be evidence, else you reject what is your liberty, as I have heard, though not so well acquainted with the orders of the house, that frustra fit per plura quod fieri potest per pauciora. My opinion is clear that the question is to agree with the Committee.
Mr. Lister. That no more time may be spent, call him to the bar. For my part, I am not satisfied with the Report in all particulars. I desired at the Committee, in the close of the business, that he might be heard again, to see whether the notes that the gentleman had taken did agree with Nayler's sense or no. So I desired he might be called, but was overruled.
Resolved, That Nayler be forthwith called to the bar and have the charge read to him, whereunto he is to give his answer Yea or No.
Captain Hatsel was speaking to have the debate put off till Monday, but Colonel Purefoy took him down.
The Master of the Rolls resumed Captain Hatsel's motion. In a matter of this consequence you ought to take time fully to hear the whole matter.
Mr. Bond. That gentleman ought to have asked your leave before he had spoken against the vote, immediately before he was orderly taken down.
<616> Mr. Speaker. In regard the third part of the House was gone, it was properly moved to adjourn.
Mr. Downing. I wonder what the word "forthwith" means, if it may be taken away by a subsequent vote. It is to no purpose to make laws or orders, if the word "forthwith" cannot be understood. I think it looks more like immediately than like Monday morning; else I understand nothing.
James Nayler being brought to the bar, refused to kneel or to put off his hat. The House agreed beforehand that they would not insist upon his kneeling, being informed that he would not do it, and that he might not say that was any part of his crime. They would not give him that advantage, but commanded the sergeant to take off his hat.
Mr. Speaker asked him of his name and country as in the Report, whereunto he answered after the old way of canting; confessed all but that passage about Mrs. Roper. "It might be," said he, "she kissed me. It was our manner; but when I found their extravagancies I left them. All that knew me, in the army and elsewhere, will say I was never guilty of lewdness, or so reputed. I abhor filthiness. See if any can accuse."
The clerk read the charge to him in parts, which he, upon the matter and in effect, confessed what was in the Report, saying, "I do not much mind what is behind; I believe the Committee, many of them, will not wrong me"; or, "I stand to what they testify"; or the like expressions he used; "It is likely I said so"; "I cannot say against it," &c.
Being asked about assuming the title of "the fairest of ten thousand," he shifted it notably thus. He that has a greater measure of Christ than 10,000 below him, the same is the fairest of 10,000.
Question. King of Israel; assumed you thus?
Answer. As I have dominion over the enemies of Christ, I am king of Israel spiritually.
Q. Are you the judge of the world?
A. I cannot deny what I said at the Committee. But the speaker, desirous to help him, here said, "Mind what you say; are you the judge, have you no fellow-judges?" Then he answered "No"; saying again, "I hope you have so much justice and charity as not to wrest my words.
"God set up this vessel as a sign of his coming, but not limited in this vessel, though it is thence that the hope of Israel springs."
Q. Why did you ride into Bristol in that manner?
A. There was never anything since I was born so much against my will and mind as this thing, to be set up as a sign in my going into those towns; for I knew that I should lay down my life for it.
Q. Whose will was it, if not yours?
A. It was the Lord's will, to give it into me to suffer such things <617> to be done in me; and I durst not resist it, though I was sure to lay down my life for it.
Q. How were you sure?
A. It was so revealed to me of my Father, and I am willing to obey his will in this thing.
Mr. Speaker. A sign is not only set up to direct the _____1 to his own, but to direct others.
A. True; such as will turn to Christ, by this sign to repentance, Christ is come to them. Haply some are not able to bear this.
Q. Are there any more signs than yours?
A. I know of no other sign. There may be other signs in some parts of the nation; but I am set up as a sign to this nation, to bear witness of his coming. You have been a long time under dark forms, neglecting the power of godliness, as bishops. It was the desire of my soul, all along, and the longing expectation of many godly men engaged with you, that this nation should be redeemed from such forms. God hath done it for you, and hath put his sword in the hands of those from whom it cannot be wrested. That sword cannot be broken, unless you break it yourselves, by disobeying the voice, the call, and rejecting the sign set up amongst you to convince them that Christ is come.
He denied their kneeling to him as was informed.
It is likely the women kneeled as much to others. It is an evil that bears that testimony. It is not true. They gave no worship to me; I abhor it, as I am a creature.
Mr. Speaker. Christ came long since, and you say he is but now come in the flesh.
A. It is well for those that can witness him long since come in the flesh. It is but of late he is come to me; but I say he is again come in the flesh, and he is daily manifested in the flesh; though none can bear it.
As to those words of the woman, "Arise my love, my dove, my fairest one, why stayest thou amongst the pots?" I own it no other way than as it was spoken in the Canticles, of Christ's church.
I am one that daily prays that magistracy may be established in this nation. I do not, nor dare affront authority. I do it not to set up idolatry, but to obey the will of my Father, which I dare not deny. I was set up as a sign to summon this nation, and to convince them of Christ's coming. The fullness of Christ's coming is not yet, but he is come now.
After a great deal more said to this purpose, which I could not take, he withdrew; and the Speaker desired if he had omitted anything <618> he would inform him, or if any desired any more questions might be asked him.
Sir Gilbert Pickering offered another question (being unsatisfied) about what his hope was in Christ's merits, and how he prayed to that Christ that died at Jerusalem. Whereupon Nayler was called in again, and answered pretty orthodoxly to those questions, and gave an account of his faith in God and Christ, &c.
Major-General Skippon. Was against calling him in, or asking any more questions, saying, He hath confessed enough to vindicate the Committee, who deserve thanks, for they have been very faithful and painful in the business. It now lies with us (being fully possessed of the matter of fact) not to suffer the honor of God and the truths of the gospel to be thus trampled upon. We shall see what judgments will come upon us. God now looks what you will do. Indeed, my heart trembles at those things remarkable, which will follow your remissness herein. I am afraid there will nothing come of this business, and then sin and judgment lie at your doors. These Quakers, Ranters, Levellers, Socinians, and all sorts, bolster themselves under thirty-seven and thirty-eight of Government,2 which, at one breath, repeals all the acts and ordinances against them.
I heard the supreme magistrate say, "It was never his intention to indulge such things"; yet we see the issue of this liberty of conscience. It sits hard upon my conscience; and I choose rather to venture my discretion, than betray conscience by my silence. If this be liberty, God deliver me from such liberty. It is to evil, not to good, that this liberty extends. Good Sir, discharge your duty to God in this thing, and put the question to agree with the Committee.
Lord President [Lawrence]. The business before you is of great weight; the House is thin, the time spent. I desire you would adjourn <619> this debate till Monday.
Mr. Ashe, the elder. I hope you are fully satisfied that the matter of fact is fully represented to you, so as you may freely agree with the Committee.
Colonel Briscoe. It is very clear that he does assume the peculiar attributes of Christ, though he does it with a distinction of visible and invisible; an evasion obvious to every sophister. But, in the thing, I am very ready to give my vote to agree with the Committee.
Mr. Butler. It lies much upon your hands to vindicate the honor of God. This fellow has not only committed blasphemy himself; but, I fear me, he caused many others to commit blasphemy.
The time of discovering this business works much with me; that such an indignity to Christ should be done, sitting a Parliament that professes so highly to the interest of Jesus Christ. Do we not undertake his cause, to manage it against Spain, where his name is blasphemed, and shall we suffer him to be blasphemed at home?
I confess my own weakness and timidity bid my silence; but, I humbly beseech you, make no delay in it. I cannot hold my peace, lest my conscience dog me to my chamber, to my curtains, to my grave.
Mr. Pedley. Put the question, whether what you have heard from James Nayler is not, in substance, agreeable with the Report before you from the Committee, and then proceed to your judgment.
Mr. Speaker. It were best to adjourn.
Sir William Strickland. Nothing has been reported from the Committee, but is, to a grain, agreed by the party's own confession at the bar. I hope you will approve of the way of the proceedings of the Committee, and adjourn the rest till Monday. You have now hell groaning under expectation of this issue, what you will do in this business. I would have us put on courage; and let not the enemies of God have the upper hand, to have liberty to blaspheme his name. It is the cause of God, and ought not to be slighted.
Colonel Sydenham. Adjourn till Monday morning. Nobody has been James Nayler's advocate: but this business ought to be fully debated, whether it is blasphemy. Some will say it is but an error, &c. If you put the question to agree with the Committee, you exclude their votes that would weigh the matter of fact; and haply some may demur to the matter in point of law; some, in matter of fact; so that, in my opinion, you are not ripe for such a question, to agree with the Committee. Again, there are many circumstances and things of small consequence in respect of the main; will you, in the gross, agree all this to be blasphemy?
Mr. Downing. You are judge and jury. You have heard the <620> prisoner at the bar, and will you leave the business in the midst, after issue joined? Can I charge my memory till Monday with what is fresh in my memory now? Have you not the evidence plain before you, and how can you leave off in the midst of an examination? Are not juries kept without meat and drink; yea, carried from cart to cart, county to county, till they agree in lesser matters, and shall we break off in this?
Mr. Speaker. I remember what a gentleman in another Parliament said of the result of our long debates, that it was but as the verdict of a starved jury. It will not be so with us, for many members have dined, though others fast.
Mr. Bedford. You should put the question, whether by the evidence you have heard, James Nayler is guilty of horrid blasphemy, and not delay the business further; for it is high time to proceed in a matter of this nature.
Major-General Goffe. I am of opinion with Nayler in one thing, that he is set up as a sign. He has fulfilled a scripture, that false Christs should arise, "to deceive, if it were possible, the very elect." It ought to be a warning to us, to know how we stand. The Scripture is fulfilled saying, "Lo! here, lo! there is Christ; but do not believe them."
The Report helps us well to understand the matter of fact, and what he hath confessed; I would have you, upon the whole matter, agree that James Nayler is guilty of blasphemy.
Mr. Speaker. Do not complicate the question, for he may be guilty of matter of fact, and not of matter of law. You involve all by this means. I would put the question simply.
Colonel Chadwick. The proper question is, to agree with the Committee in the Report; or, otherwise, whether that question should be put.
Major-General Desborough. I believe that James Nayler is guilty of blasphemy, but I shall not hinder your question to agree with the Committee in the Report.
Sir Gilbert Pickering. It is most Parliamentary to agree with the Report, in parts, and debate it so all along.
Major Audley. It is a gross mistake to agree with the Report in gross. I cannot agree to this; but rather to proceed upon your own knowledge. What you have heard with your own ears from him, may be the ground of your proceeding now; or otherwise to examine it in parts.
Captain Hatsel. The Committee did proceed with much integrity and care, to answer all ends. While I was there, his own answers were sufficient convictions, as to the matters charged against him.
Resolved, To agree with the Committee in the Report.
Resolved, To adjourn the further debate of this business till Monday, and no other business to intervene.
<621> This debate held till almost four, which spoiled the sitting of all committees. I question whether it has not left them all sine die, unless some met only to adjourn. I went to look after committees after five, but found none, only Sir Gilbert Pickering very serious with the clerk in the lobby, copying out Nayler's charge, to be better prepared against Monday.
The House resumed the debate upon the Report in the business of James Nayler, and sat both forenoon and afternoon, and came to the resolutions infra.
Sir Thomas Wroth. Seeing Nayler must die, I desire to see what manner of death it must be.
Sir William Strickland. Do not go to the punishment, but go to the matter of fact. First examine that.
The Master of the Rolls. The matter of fact should be stated, whether blasphemy or no.
Major-General Whalley. For my part, I am of opinion that this person is guilty of horrid blasphemy; and we ought to be tender in this, lest we draw this sin upon us.
Major Audley. I think there is no man so possessed with the devil as this person is. I am of opinion, with that noble gentleman that spoke last, that he is guilty of blasphemy; but would not condemn any man upon general terms. I am glad to see such a Christian spirit and sound principle, as in that person that spoke last. God has forsaken him: yet, in matters capital, I would have us go from part to part, and so vote it blasphemy all along as you go. This is the most proper way, in my opinion.
Mr. Nathaniel Bacon. I think it is not so much the possession of the devil. He does arrogate to himself the person, attributes, and what not, of Christ. No man here, I believe, will open his mouth against any part of this charge, but agree that it is horrid blasphemy. I am not for taking it in parts. The Committee is agreed with, who have determined it to be blasphemy. As Major-General Whalley said, take this man's practice and opinion together, and it is apparent horrid blasphemy.
I desire that you would not call into question the particulars again; but put the question, whether you will agree with the Committee, that the matter of fact in the whole is horrid blasphemy, for it is not for your honor abroad to proceed otherwise.
Major-General Desborough. We must not proceed without rules; though the offense be heinous enough. We must either take the law of God, or of man, to regulate our judgment herein.
Upon the common sense of scripture, there are few but do commit <622> blasphemy, as our Savior puts it in Mark, "Sins, blasphemies"; if so, then none without blasphemy. It was charged upon David, and Eli's son, thou hast blasphemed, or caused others to blaspheme.
But the law of God is more particularly set forth in Leviticus. "He cursed and blasphemed," and was brought before Moses, who instituted the law, that "he should be stoned." The Jews, when they come to charge Christ, say "He is a blasphemer, makes himself equal with God, and will destroy this temple": the like charge against Stephen.
I speak not to extenuate Nayler's offense, but if we judge by Christian rule, the other persons are more guilty of blasphemy in that sense, than he. They gave him the honor. Yet I will not say but, in the other sense, he is guilty of blasphemy. He is a greater sinner, a vile sinful man; but to call him a horrid blasphemer, I shall not give my vote. The wretched Jews came to particulars before they went to judgment. It is either by the rule of the Scripture, or the law of the land; else how can you judge what is blasphemy. I know no such words as "horrid blasphemy" in Scripture.
Mr. Drake. So you will agree it blasphemy, I stand not much upon the word horrid; but do rather insist upon it in regard the noble person said there was difference of blasphemies. We have gone to particulars already. Did he not suffer himself to be honored as our Savior, in his riding through all the towns? What would you do if one should ride triumphantly through the country, as a ruler of the nations? Were not he to be proceeded against as a traitor? I think him worse than all the papists in the world, worse than possessed with the devil. God is jealous of his own name. He has been jealous of your honor, and we shall neither have Turk, nor atheist, nor pagan converted here; and it is now brought to you, either to bring blood upon this nation or to acquit it.
My motion is to vote this offense horrid blasphemy. What does he less than set himself up as God and man both, by his distinction of visible and invisible? All people would kick and despise him, if he should say in plain terms he were God or Christ, but he does as much in effect as say so. I have heard of Herod, but this is worse than he; for he makes himself to be the Christ, and to dethrone our Lord and Savior. Does not he assume the honor and names, titles and attributes of Christ? If he should say it in plain terms, none would believe him; but he insinuates as much to the full, both in gesture, &c.
Lord Strickland. This fellow is one made up of contradictions. The Quakers teach humility, but he exalts himself. I doubt he is but too bad, yet I do not believe (by what I have heard) that he did say he was Jesus or Christ, though I think the women do believe him to be Christ.
I never heard of any man given up to so high a delusion, to so <623> much pride and arrogancy, as this person instanced in his pleasant answer to his being the fairest of ten thousand. I believe he is under the saddest temptation of Satan that ever was; but I believe he does not believe that he is the only Christ, that died at Jerusalem, or that the essence of Christ is in him, but I fear he cannot distinguish of Christ's being in him. I think his opinion is little else than as that of John Baptist, a forerunner of Christ.
In all these respects, I look upon him as a man exceeding scandalous, proud, and sinful; but to say he is a blasphemer I cannot agree. He does not blaspheme God. He says he honors God wherever he finds him. He nor curses nor reviles at God. I believe he is one of those that would sit on the right or left hand of God. He has no evil spirit or malice in him against God; but he is under a sad delusion of the devil. By that means, perhaps, he might have been excommunicated. He believes that more of Christ is in him than in any other creature; but he showed no malice to Christ, or envy.
If you have any rule, I would have you proceed against him as a seducer, and to let none be allowed to come to him: to shut him up as one that has the plague upon him. Haply you have some persons here, that will find you out a law to secure him from doing any further hurt; to act rather as a magistrate than by another power, whereby you have not a rule to proceed.
But for us to judge of blasphemy, unless we were so learned in the original as to define what is blasphemy, lest we be judged abroad whether we be adequate judges in this case of blasphemy, send him to Biddle in the Isle of Scilly.
Lord Whitlock. I cannot but dissent from the gentlemen that have opened it to be blasphemy. I think it is an offense of a higher nature. I know blasphemy in Scripture is defined to be sin. But to assume these titles and attributes of Christ is more than blasphemy. He calls the saints his brethren, so did Christ himself say. The Committee did well to add the word "horrid," but this is a particular offense, which cannot be said what it is, but by expressing the offense itself.
But to the manner of your proceedings. I have not found that the Parliament hath given judgment in any matter where there was not a law before. They have not proceeded in that case, but by Act of Parliament.
To give a judgment in point of life, no law being in force to that purpose, my humble opinion is to go by way of bill. To order a bill to be brought in with a blank for the punishment, where the grand Committee, if you please, may appoint the punishment, and by this means you have others to join with you in your legislative power. The like case was the Bishop of Rochester's cook, who, by Act of Parliament, <624> had new punishment appointed him, i.e., to be boiled in a hot lead. Hackett's case was otherwise, for he set himself up as a king.
By a bill of attainder, this bill may be brought in, and the party heard; which will certainly be your best and readiest way, and most agreeable to the sense of a great many of this house.
Major Beake. I conceived you ought first to determine the offense, what it is; and then prepare a proportionable punishment, which you may do then by a bill.
I conceive the judgment of Parliament is so sovereign, that it may declare that to be an offense, which never was an offense before. The Roman senate did the like in cases of parricide.
I have read some counsels for ordinances and acts of Parliament that have positively defined what is blasphemy. I wonder it should be so questioned here as to hedge out every man's knowledge in this matter. The word of God is express and plain in it. I can produce you very good authors confining it to these limits. It is a crime that deposes the majesty of God himself, crimen laesae maiestatis, the ungodding of God. And if we cannot reduce it to this, I desire that he should not be punished. He assumes Jesus instead of James.
"Holy, holy." These are attributes properly belonging to Christ; doing miracles, raising the dead.
I would have the Report read over, that it may be fresh in every man's memory. If it be so that he has assumed these attributes, why should it stick in your hands to determine of it?
You agree lesser sins to be blasphemy, and why do you stick to call it horrid blasphemy? I know not yet what will be an adequate judgment, or punishment, nor is it proper to determine it yet.
Captain Baynes. If you proceed by laws now in being, it is one thing; but, otherwise, you must make a law for it, else how can you do execution in this matter? Then you must go upon the legislative, wherein my Lord Protector must have a negative. We may bring him into a snare unless he heard the matter. His opinion may stick and demur as to the offense; for the Instrument of Government says, all shall be protected that profess faith in Jesus Christ, which, I suppose, this man does. If you declare it to be such an high offense, and have no punishment in the case, what better are you? If you have laws in being, then send him to some of your Courts of Justice.
Colonel White cited the proviso in the Article of Liberty, holding these principles out to civil injury.
I propound it to you to proceed against him as an actual disturber of the public peace, by abusing his liberty. Haply, you may find a lesser punishment than death, which may discourage him, and the <625> generation of them. I question whether the power of the Parliament can put a negative upon any part of the Government.
Mr. Downing. You have voted the Report, in the gross, to be fully proved; so that if there be anything of blasphemy in the Report, it is blasphemy in the gross. If you go to particulars, you will never come to an end; for then, whether will you proceed upon his confession at the bar, or upon the Report? His being possessed with the devil is no extenuation of the offense, but as introductory to the offense, as in a case of an indictment.
I am not against a bill, but something must be voted first, as to the matter of fact, else what shall your bill be called, or how will you proceed?
Blasphemy so taken, in general gives the more reason to pass this vote, for the greater comprehends the lesser. Cursing of God is treason, but the making oneself equal with God or Christ is treason, blasphemy, with a witness! assumes the incommunicable attributes of God and Christ, and suffers adoration as God and Christ. This you have voted already.
No offense can be higher than treason, none higher than blasphemy. Let us not lose this word, lest we have none.
Observe how careful they are not to give honor to any authority. You saw how he behaved himself at the bar. Not a cap to you, though you be gods in one sense; yet he will take cap, knee, kisses, and all reverence. His distinction of visible and invisible makes his blasphemy plain.
God manifested and come down in the flesh, at Exeter, in James Nayler! Did not he say that where God appoints Christ his honor, there he must be honored. If thus come down, we ought all to go and worship James Nayler. How did the Jews and Rabbins interpret blasphemy? Not the cursing of God, but the making himself equal with God. Christ never denied it to be blasphemy to make oneself equal with God, but he stood upon it that he was. If this be the case of this man, shall you not vote it blasphemy?
It is brought to you, sitting the Parliament. If it had been brought to his Highness, I am confident he would have been zealous in it, and extended the laws.
We have made a law against treason, upon earth, to be tried without juries. I gave my vote for it. It was just. If there be such a thing as treason against Heaven, if I be not most zealous in this matter, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth.
There was no law against blasphemy in the Scripture, till one committed a fault. He did not escape that offended, and he was the occasion <626> of a good law. You have made laws in lesser matters than this.
As to the Instrument of Government. I hope it shall never be made use of as an argument to let this wretch escape. I am as much for tender consciences as any man; but I deny that this has any share in such liberty. Does this man profess faith in Jesus Christ? Nothing! He destroys and disannuls the power of Christ, and sets up himself only with a distinction of the invisibles. God could have made him a pillar of salt immediately, if he had pleased; have struck him dead, but he has left it to you to vindicate his honor and glory. Now see what you will do. This is the day of temptation, and trial of your zeal. I can call this offense no less than blasphemy. I desire you would vote it so, and then to speak of a bill for his punishment.
Lord President. This gentleman has spoken very zealously, yet they were honest men, too, that called for fire from heaven, and we know how they were reproved.
I have lived some time in the world, and seen what is abroad, and how careful wise men have been in proceeding in this kind.
I wonder why any man should be so amazed at this. Is not God in every horse, in every stone, in every creature? Your Familists affirm that they are Christed in Christ, and Godded in God.
This business lies heavy upon my heart. Imprudent persons run away with these notions, and not being able to distinguish, sad consequences arise. But this is but from the abuse of good, sound, and high notions, and thence they argue liberty of sinning. Some look upon this as a bridge to bring them to this perfection.
If you hang every man that says "Christ is in you the hope of glory," you will hang a good many. You shall hear this in every man's mouth of that sect, and others too, that challenge a great interest in Christ.
I do not believe that James Nayler thinks himself to be the only Christ; but that Christ is in him in the highest measure. This, I confess, is sad. But if, from hence, you go about to adjudge it, or call it blasphemy, I am not satisfied in it. It is hard to define what is blasphemy. I believe you think Arianism is blasphemy; and so it is, to deny the divinity of Christ; but this is to themselves, about the notion of God. This is not to us.
It is the happiness of this nation that every mother's son should know Christ. But I doubt there are many in this nation that pass for Christians, that know not the mystery of Christ manifest in the flesh. I have discoursed with some of that sect, and have read some of their books, that every man had a light within him to bring him to Christ; and that the first creature that God made was light (i.e.) Christ; which <627> is a fallacy, for Christ was not created. Their bottom is much tending to Arminianism, and I would have the venting such principles restrained. I shall say nothing to the punishment now; but have you read the Report over, and let every man give his reasons why such a part is blasphemy?
Major-General Skippon. By the rule that this honorable person offers, none shall meddle at all in matters of religion. I cannot agree with him, in that Providence has brought this offense to your doors. We ought to be careful how we draw down national judgments by passing it by. There may be errors in our zeal on both sides. The question will come, whether you honor more the things of God or your own things. I would not willingly weaken one stone of the Government, but rather be a means to establish; but the 37th article was never intended to bolster up blasphemies in this nature. I have heard it otherwise. This may admit of your future explanation. I hope I offend not. I may haply offend man.
I beseech you, consider how this comes before you, consider what it is when it comes, consider the chair you sit in. I am still of the same opinion I was; nay, I am more established, being convinced of my own conscience, and your duty, that you ought to agree with the Committee, in the gross, that it is blasphemy, horrid blasphemy. If it be more, as some gentleman has said, let that be further considered. God's glory has been trampled upon sufficiently in these things. Voting it to be horrid blasphemy is my humble opinion.
Sir Gilbert Pickering. I did not hear the lord that spoke last but one, say anything to take off your hands in this matter. He reserved his judgment as to the punishment. It was a jealousy of Major-General Skippon, without a foundation. His speech was all along otherwise. It seems, as it is laid before you, it is now with you to consider whether you will mind more the honor of God or your own honor in this business.
If this gentleman thinks it is blasphemy, and thinks it ought to be punished with death, he must give others leave to dissent, if their judgments will not agree to it. Some haply have the same zeal for God, yet haply they may not have the same appetite to give sentence in these things, without special tenderness respecting the sad consequence. If I were of that opinion, that this offense amounts to blasphemy, I should not stick to say so; but give me leave a little to understand whether this be that blasphemy which was first committed. Which of the sorts of blasphemy that was, I am truly ignorant, not affecting ignorance herein, whether it was cursing God, or, I doubt, a higher offense rather. If you lay an interpretation upon the Rabbin's definition of blasphemy, you will wholly frustrate the word of God. (Instanced their interpretation of the word "Corban").
<628> I am at a stand what to call this offense. It does highly return upon God to his disgrace, &c., but to determine it blasphemy, I confess I am ignorant in it.
It is a gross, thick, dark idolatry in the persons that followed him on horseback: they are not only equally but more guilty in this business than himself. But the proper proceeding is, as to what is done by the person himself; wherein you ought to take as well what he said for himself, as against himself, as that question which he answered upon his second calling in. I thank you for it; I was much satisfied in it. He did admonish the people to take heed what they did, and to do nothing but what God commanded them; and repeated his answer to the last question. I would have this to be used as an extenuation. Mr. Seldon said upon Bests's answer, at your bar, that he was a better man than he understood himself to be. That may be this man's case. He gives himself not out, plainly, to be the son of God, but that he is a prophet, a type, a sign, to warn men of the second coming of Christ, and thus he argues: "If any man see more in me than in another, what have I to do to resist what is the Father's will."
My present apprehension, in short, is this, that the person is both a flat idolater, and idolatry itself. I am ready to give my sense in it, as to the punishment of this, but to give my vote for blood I shall be very tender in it. Haply, some will say I am fallen from the faith. I speak my conscience, the will of God be done in it.
Mr. Rouse. If it be agreed to be idolatry, I think it is enough. You have spent a forenoon to consider what to call it. I think this will be sufficient to bring him to what punishment you shall think fit.
It was the idolatry in that person, that was in the same person punished. Those that worshipped him were not the offenders; but the idol was pulled down, the person that suffered such worship to be done unto him. For my part, I think, call it what you will, it is an high offense and encroachment upon the honors of God, and ought to be punished, as blasphemy, or idolatry. Either way will meet with the offender, in the same end as is propounded to you.
Sir William Strickland. This debate is likely to hold some time. I desire you would adjourn for an hour or two, and take it up again, that it may bear its weight with it.
Resolved: That this House do adjourn till three o'clock upon this debate.
We met in the Army Chamber, and adjourned the Committee for the courts at York, till Wednesday, at two.
The order for adjournment was read.
Mr. Speaker said, you have heard the order.
Silence a pretty long while, and the question called for.
Mr. Speaker said, he could put no question unless to adjourn again.
Mr. Nathaniel Bacon. The question in the morning, which was firsted and seconded, was to agree with the Committee, that Nayler's offense was horrid blasphemy.
Sir William Roberts. If you would put the question, you should not say, as the Committee called it, "horrid blasphemy"; but, if you will put it horrid blasphemy, put it.
Sir Gilbert Pickering. I brought in a petition, which was the order of the day. I desire that might be read.
Colonel Rouse and Sir Thomas Wroth. The proper question is what you should call this offense. Would have you put the question, if it be horrid blasphemy.
Mr. Speaker. There were several questions before, about the way and manner of your proceedings, whether by the legislative or judicatory, besides this question.
The Master of the Rolls. I have heard this debate, and, in my opinion, it was very learnedly debated. I never heard of such a horrid sin as this, in all my life. Some would have it idolatry; some, blasphemy of one sort; some, of another sort. It is not the matter what he said here; but his carriage before this judicature is most remarkable with me. He does not disown this honor here to Christ in him.
That of setting himself up above ten thousand was blasphemy, insinuated as highly as could be.
Consider how you stand in the opinion of the world; what an ill construction is upon us from the malignant party. They will say you have had one before you for calling himself Christ, and done nothing in it. Consider Paul's case, how he denied any honor to be done to him by the barbarians. Is there more of the Spirit in him than in Paul. Yet he sets up himself, as one to be worshipped. It is flat idolatry, both in him and in those that follow him. Call it little or great blasphemy, it is blasphemy if it be but a grain.
I would have the question put, whether James Nayler be guilty of abominable idolatry and damnable blasphemy.
Mr. Highland. We have a saying in our country, "Give the devil his due." The poor man is bad enough, we had not need to add. Does he deny either God, or Christ, or the Spirit? Lay no more stress upon it than it deserves. It differs from Paul's case. He is much filled with spiritual pride, that he has more of Christ in him than another. The <630> women said they did not honor James Nayler, but the Lord.
I hope you are not of opinion that he should suffer death for this, though it be a heinous offense. Labor, if it be possible, in a peaceable way, to reclaim those that are misled by his delusions; for I suppose we all agree it to be a great and horrid crime. Yet, from the whole, to judge it blasphemy, I conceive it is not proper, nor can I give my 'yea' to it.
Mr. Bedford. You have lately had the offender before you, and you are now debating what the offense should be. I would not have it made more than it is. It appears bad enough to me, so that I think it comes under whatsoever has been offered to you, i.e., both idolatry and horrid blasphemy.
He has owned the names, attributes, titles, power, and honor of Christ; he has assumed them all. He will not tell you where Christ is, or that he is on the right hand of God. Yet he came down fully in the flesh, at Exeter, upon him: he takes that.
The Long Parliament tried Hackett because he said he was the King of Saints, and the crown ought to be set upon his head, and this by your legislative power.
He has robbed God and Christ of his honor. I can call him no less than a traitor in that. I desire that the question might be that James Nayler is a horrid blasphemer.
Mr. Bacon. This fellow is not the fairest of ten thousand as his disciples would have him, but the foulest of ten thousand rather. It is much controverted here, whether a law may be made for a matter ex post facto. Nothing more ordinary in a Parliament. Was it not the case of the Bishop of Rochester's cook? He made broth which poisoned all the family, and the beggars at the gates. Here was a law made, both for the offense and the punishment.
The like in Hackett's case.
The like in the Holy Maid of Kent's case, Hen. VIII, who said she had immediate intercourse and letters from the Virgin Mary. Her offense was adjudged high treason.
Resolved, That candles be called for; two Noes.
Colonel Sydenham. Here are several things before you of several natures and kinds; some against God immediately, some against the civil peace, some against manners and honesty.
I look upon it, on the whole, as a laying a ground to overthrow the gospel. If so, our labor is in vain.
It is a confounding of Christ and his attributes.
It is against the civil peace; for, by this rule, we must lay aside all civil submission to any supreme power, and throw down the scepter at Christ's feet, wherever we find him reigning, though in this impostor. <631> Another against common honesty, as his lying with the woman, the curtains drawn, &c. Will you confound all these crimes under such an improper title as in the gross, to call it blasphemy? This offense is not homogenial. It differs from that offense of the Holy Maid of Kent. The Parliament did justly declare that to be treason.
If this should be taken as a blasphemy upon the whole, it would be left as a record to posterity.
I cannot be in the world but I hear some of their opinions, both in print or otherwise. These Quakers or Familists affirm that Christ dwells personally in every believer. That which I fear is to draw this down into precedent, for by the same ground you may proceed against all of that sect. Again, that which sticks most with me is the nearness of this opinion to that which is a most glorious truth, that the Spirit is personally in us. The precedent in this case will be dangerous to posterity. I submit it to you whether you should not go upon the whole matter of fact, which is the most natural way of proceeding.
If some of those Parliaments were sitting in our places, I believe they would condemn most of us for heretics. The most safe way is to go upon the whole. Who can tell what may be the spirit or temper of other Parliaments? We should be in this more unanimous, and come sooner to the question. It is for your honor. I fear this long debate will make them without say one half of the House are Quakers, the other half anti-Quakers.
Sir Richard Onslow. I am glad to hear of anything that will shorten your time. I shall not undertake to define what blasphemy is, but I can describe what this is. My opinion is, as it was, that it is blasphemy. There is officium altior officio. It is our duty, with a witness, to do something in this business, and that with all possible zeal. I cannot tell what to call horrid blasphemy, if this be not it. Have not Parliaments, in all matters of this extraordinary nature, had recourse to their legislative power, and have given titles to offenses and new punishments adequate? Why should you boggle at this? My motion is that it may be voted horrid blasphemy.
Mr. Briscoe. You have voted the Report, which is the ground and substance of the crime, so that I think you need not long contend what shall be the title. If the Report were not full enough, my judgment is from his own acknowledgment, that he assumed, or connived at the receiving, the honor and attributes of Christ; consentiens and agens in law are pari gradu. He confesseth it to be evil to give adoration to him, but, God commanding it, he durst not refuse it. By this means he lays the sin and evil upon God, if it be a sin. If not, then it is a real truth that he ought to be worshipped as a God.
<632> "Hope of Israel stands." This must be a peculiar person, more than ordinary, in whom this hope stands; for by Israel certainly must be meant all believers, and by Hope must certainly be meant Christ. It can stand in no other person.
Acceptance of the woman's salutation, "Arise, &c. My love, &c." To me this seems a plain owning the honor due to Christ. He never reproved them for giving it, but said they might obey what the Lord commanded them.
We have no law against blasphemy under the gospel, yet the jus naturale is of force. It is an offense against the moral law. By the light of nature, as divines say, we may know the Deity.
If against the judicial law, the equity remains. It is a sin against a greater light, a more transcendent light. If ignorance doth extenuate, so doth knowledge aggravate; and the greater his knowledge the greater his offense. He owns it knowingly.
The circumstance of time works much with me. It is our duty. If we neglect it, let us consider Eli's judgment. Qui non vetat, jubet. That it should come to our doors in this juncture of time!
The spreading of it in England and Ireland, and other plantations, appears to me to proceed from some encouragement it hath. I would have us, however, bear witness against it.
This is a spiritual judgment and wickedness amongst us. We draw guilt upon us. We know what Phineas did in such a case, and what was the consequence: the plague was stopped. Let us obviate these evils, meet them in the threshold. My motion is, That you would vote James Nayler to be guilty, upon the whole matter, of horrid blasphemy.
Major-General Desborough. The great business before us, this day, is to consider which way we may proceed according to knowledge. Our zeal is hot enough, as it was in former times with the Israelites. All the difference is about the manner of expressing it. I would have us as unanimous as may be. We are now waiting upon God for the issue. I shall not need to aggravate it. It has been sufficiently done. We are left to our rules in this case, and herein we differ. Sharp punishments are denounced against blasphemers; but this way is not revealed to us. We all agree it to be a most horrid crime.
Blasphemy is taken in divers senses in Scripture. I do really believe that this man is guilty of blasphemy in one sense; but I have not heard one scripture urged this day, that this offense is comprehended under this or that rule or text touching blasphemy.
It is such a leprosy that ought to be shut out from all others. So far I can agree.
You heard in the gospel, of false Christs to arise; but no judgment <633> is passed upon them, but only to bid us take heed of them, beware, and the like.
The work of a magistrate is distinct from every private person. He ought to take heed that such persons do not infect others. This offense is horrible enough as to God; but as to the civil magistrate, how shall he be guided in this case?
But I do not see how it answers, either the rule, or the law, or the gospel, to call this offense, as is offered to you, horrid blasphemy.
Where the law of God and law of man is silent, I never heard it in a Christian commonwealth, to condemn any man in that high nature as is offered. You may witness against them as far as you can by a rule. I would have you vote that James Nayler is guilty of horrid crimes, and to take it in gross as was offered to you by Colonel Sydenham. You will effect the end we all aim at. Enumerate, if you please, blasphemy, heresy, idolatry, and that he is a seducer and an imposter. I believe he is all this, but to vote it horrid blasphemy, I cannot consent to it.
Mr. Bodurda. A man had need premise something of himself before he say anything in this business. I cannot agree, from the whole, to call it horrid blasphemy. I would have any man lay his finger upon any part of the charge, and say this particular is horrid blasphemy. If this vote pass, and any without ask me, what have you called this offense? how can I convince them, from any part of it, that it is such an offense as you have voted it?
When have you passed any such vote as this in the gross? I would fain know how I shall answer this objection. I cannot pretend to any skill in the original tongue. Thus much I remember of Greek , defamatio, a pertinacious holding of heresy. You have not any such part of Nayler's offense before you, which he hath pertinaciously persisted in. The proceeding of the church in this case ought to be followed, who heard a heretic three or four times before they passed sentence. Either you must proceed upon what was proved against him, or what he confessed. His riding into Exeter was a horrid piece of pageantry and impostery, but how to call that blasphemy in him I know not.
Upon the account of the Millenaries, I look upon this of Nayler's crimes, I am very much troubled. I would have the growth of them suppressed, for they are a dangerous generation, and certainly much influenced upon by this sort of Quakers.
In 2d Eliz. John Moore said he was Christ, and William Jeffrey did so worship him. They did not evade, but were plain and express in their opinions. Divines had him under consideration, and could not convince, but he stood in it that he was Christ. They sentenced him to be whipped from the prison to Bedlam, where, remaining some time, <634> he confessed his imposture and cheat. Before you vote it anything, I desire you would take it in pieces. Otherwise go to the punishment first, lest you debar a great many votes that would concur in the crime, but for the consequence of the punishment.
Colonel Gorges. I would demand this question of these gentlemen: is there such a thing as blasphemy? Consider what he said at the bar. He said the voice, the spirit, that spoke in him, were the words of Christ. If he be infallible, then let us worship him. If fallible, what is that less than blasphemy to own such a spirit in him. His practice is idolatry. His excuse is, Christ is within him. He makes an idol of himself; and ought not an idol be dashed in pieces? He never reproved his disciples, nay, rather encouraged them, to obey the command of God, &c. My motion is, that it may be called horrid blasphemy.
Sir John Reynolds. If you agree not what shall be the crime, how will you agree in the punishment? I would have you defer it for a time, and take the advice of some able divines about you. The long Parliament did so in these cases. Your time, in appearance, is short, and many weighty businesses before you, &c.
Dr. Clarges. I thought you had been so near a question that I should not have needed to have troubled you. You have here before you the greatest matter that ever came before a Parliament. This impostor hath not only poisoned himself, but too many others. I have made some collections, and I have a bad memory; I crave your pardon if I read my notes.
Blasphemy defined in three things.
Question. Whether blasphemy and cursing be not two distinct things? "They came to Christ, they mocked him" (22 Luke), one blasphemy.
"A knowing and an ignorant blasphemy" (1 Tim. 1:13). "I was a blasphemer," said Paul. "I did it injuriously."
"Whoever shall set up a sign" (Deut. 27), he is an idolater, and has not Nayler set himself up so?
If any of these people had a mind to adore the invisible God, they need not flock about James Nayler. He owned the letter wherein he was called Jesus. His relation of the manner of his going into Exeter very much confirms me that he assumed the honor done to Christ when he was upon the earth. He rebuked none of them for it. "My father," not mentioned in any part of Scripture but in Christ's person, yet this impostor assumes it.
In my opinion James Nayler is guilty of horrid blasphemy; what greater expressions of it than to assume honor as to a Deity, though invisible.
In murder, a man destroys, as much as in him is, the seed of <635> mankind: blasphemy much more. Perjury destroys a man in the same sense by consequence in his life, and it perisheth society.
I shall speak no more; but let us all stop our ears, and stone him—for he is guilty of horrid blasphemy: nothing so apparent.
Major-General Desborough. You should put the word blasphemy distinctly. If it be simple blasphemy, I can freely give my yea to it; but if blasphemy in the restrained sense, I shall be against it: both in respect I understand not how the offense will amount to it, nor what the punishment may be. I would not have any here be surprised in this vote.
Mr. Margets. It is surely obvious to you that there is a different sense in the House, what kind of blasphemy this shall be called. I would have you put the question whether it shall be put or no, and so determine it.
Sir William Strickland. I hope the more you hear of this, the more your ears tingle at it. Here is no ignorant person before you. Did he not own the honor due Christ? Did he reprove those that gave him that honor? Did he not rather excuse them by laying the sin to God's charge? for said they and he both, "God commanded it."
He that puts himself in the place of Jesus Christ, and sets himself up above Christ, all other things are but mint and cummin in respect to this. Let us not betray God Almighty. The report was made very justly and faithfully. I am of the opinion that it is blasphemy, nay, horrid blasphemy, and I desire you will put the question.
Colonel Jones. You should instance in some part of the Report that makes it blasphemy, as his assuming the attributes of Christ, lest after ages take another thing for blasphemy in the Report than you judge him on.
Colonel Clarke. I take this person to be under a very high delusion, strong and devilish delusion, that has tossed him up and down in the world. I take it not to be under any designed malice or wickedness, and if so, you cannot call it blasphemy. I shall be as ready as any man to bear my testimony against him; for I take him to be the greatest impostor that has been in our days.
I would have the question put, that he is a notorious impostor and seducer of the people.
Mr. 3. If you consider the number of them abroad, you would apply some speedy remedy; for that they are seduced is apparent enough. I have heard of one that was strangely deluded by this person, and he came off from them. The like of Sedgwick in Hertfordshire. If it were not to reach his life, I believe a great many would be free in this vote.
<636> I know not whether it is knowledge or what it is, that puffs him up. This opinion of his does border upon a very glorious truth. I would have us very tender as to what name you give it; lest, by the words "horrid blasphemy," many be drawn in, to vote what their mind is not; that may be of ill consequence.
Major Audley. I was not for passing this matter in the lump, but in censu diviso. It was well offered to you, to send some divines to undelude this man, if it be possible, to try this delusion. I cannot agree with voting this horrid blasphemy. There is something else which will follow, wherein haply I shall not agree. His matter of opinion sticks not so much with me as his matter of practice. I doubt others have deceived him, as well as he hath deluded others.
If you make blasphemy a generical sin, it must consist of particulars.
You christen this offense like Diapente, five ingredients, and that the least of them; yet you will give it denomination from that drug, and out of the whole extract a name for the offense. I submit it to you whether this will look well in after ages, or no; to condemn one upon such an accumulative and general account, without distinguishing the parts and particulars, to make it up.
Colonel Mathews. In my opinion James Nayler is guilty of horrid blasphemy. I would have added to the question, that he is a great impostor and a seducer, which will answer all senses.
Mr. Robinson. I am against the word horrid in your question. I wish it could have been tried out of doors. Spare that word, and I shall not be against the question. I wish any could assign to me, from what part of the Report you ground your judgment upon, that this is horrid blasphemy. I do not find the scripture so clear in it what it is; instanced in that of Job's wife.
This word spared, I can the better tell how to give my opinion as to the punishment, that he may no longer pester the nation with these poisonous principles.
Colonel Shapcot. Put the question whether the word horrid should be part of the question, and this will determine the debate and save your labor.
Mr. Speaker. Agreed.
Lord Claypole. A word or two before your question. It is a great many more's concernment than James Nayler's case. In other debates you make the title last. I would you observed this rule in this also. Admit you leave out the word horrid. If he be only guilty of blasphemy—if you extend not a proportionable punishment, how strangely will this look upon your records. I would have the parts read over, and debate it along, what is blasphemy and what not.
<637> Mr. Ashe, the elder. If any man speak to this business now, it is against the orders of the House, not to keep to the question, which is, whether the word horrid shall be in the question. Keep close to that which is your proper work, else you will go contrary to your orders.
He might have taken Lord Claypole down, and at first, if he durst.
Major-General Howard. I thought not to have troubled you in this business; but you are launching into a matter of great consequence. Whatever you do in this, it may be of ill consequence to posterity.
I could freely give my vote, that he is a grand impostor and seducer, and that his opinions are heretical and blasphemous. His confession will justify me thus far; but then, to vote it horrid blasphemy, I cannot consent.
This vote of yours will be very conclusive; so that I desire to declare my conscience in it, that I am not satisfied from what I heard at the bar, that Nayler is guilty of blasphemy. Were it not that such a punishment is to ensue, I could be freer in it; but I know this is but in order to a greater vote, &c.
Mr. Reynell. I would have you wholly lay aside the Report, and go upon what Nayler confessed at the bar; which, in my opinion, was full enough and pregnant, that he did own and assume the honor and attributes due to Christ only, with a distinction. My humble motion is, that you would vote it horrid blasphemy; for I cannot conceive how it should be less, both from his own confession here and at the Committee, besides the other proofs.
Mr. Waller. I would not have the offense made greater than it is, lest the punishment prove also greater. These two rubs must be removed before I can give my consent:
1. What blasphemy is.
2. What shall be the punishment.
I am for the moderater title, that he is a great impostor and a seducer. This will fully bear your witness against it. I incline to the moderate way, lest you open such a vein of blood as you will scarcely close.
Colonel Holland. I hope he may speak now that has spoken nothing in this business. Consider the state of this nation, what the price of our blood is. Liberty of conscience, the Instrument gives it us. We remember how many Christians were formerly martyred under this notion of blasphemy; and who can define what it is? I am wholly against the question. I may transgress your orders, it being the first day I sat here.
A greater punishment do they deserve that are thus deluded, than he that suffers such things.
Resolved, That the word 'horrid' be added to the question.
Resolved, That the main question shall be put.
<638> Resolved, That James Nayler, upon the whole matter, in fact, is guilty of horrid blasphemy.
Major-General Goffe and Captain Hatsel. That you would also add this to the question, that James Nayler is a grand impostor, and a great seducer of the people.
The Master of the Rolls. Add the word, likewise.
Resolved, That the said James Nayler is also a grand imposter, and a great seducer of the people.
Mr. Bampfield and Major-General Skippon. Adjourn this debate till tomorrow, and nothing to intervene.
Colonel White. A little time will end this business. You may now soon come to a determination as to the manner of your proceeding, whether by attainder or not.
Dr. Clarges. In hopes of the party's repentance, upon the converse of some godly divines, adjourn this debate till Monday next.
Mr. Robinson. Put off this debate till Monday, and go on with your more serious affairs.
Mr. Berkeley. Let another day be appointed for petitions.
Captain Hatzel. I am for adjourning till tomorrow; but I would have two or four gentlemen appointed to bring in a bill of attainder against him.
Sir William Strickland. I am very inclinable to mercy; and to that purpose do second that motion, that some godly divines might talk with Nayler, and in the interim suspend the debate. I desire his conversion.
Sir John Reynolds. I would have some ministers to speak with him, as Dr. Owen, Mr. Caryl, and Mr. Nye. Possibly some good may be wrought upon him, and in the meantime, adjourn the debate.
Major-General Goffe. I shall second that motion of mercy, for that worthy person. It was Christian; I desire it may not die. Let us use all possible means to convert him.
Sir Christopher Pack. I do freely agree to that Christian motion, to send to him some divines, and go on with your debate at the same time. I would have Dr. Reynolds.
Major-General Whalley. First consider his punishment, and then send divines to him. When he is made apprehensive of his danger, you may have the better hope of his reclaimer.
Sir Gilbert Pickering. I am against sending any divines to him, till you have proceeded further in the business, and then let him have all the benefit of conversion that may be. He will say, you only court him to forsake his opinions, with the arguments of death. First, let him apprehend the danger he is in.
Resolved, That this debate be adjourned till tomorrow morning.
<639> It was offered to have Thursdays for hearing petitions, but no resolutions therein. Some desired that petitions might be heard in fifth and sixth and seventh places.
Judge-Advocate Whalley brought in a book, which contained witchcraft and blasphemy and free-will, &c., desired the House would take it into consideration, and do something in it.
Mr. Speaker. In such cases, the gentlemen ought to extract such heads out of the book as are blasphemous or heretical, &c., or the like, and upon those heads charge the author; for it is not likely that every member has read that book, so as to pass judgment upon it.
This gentleman may bring it in some other day.
The House sat till past six, half an hour.
Colonel Holland came this day into the House.
The order of the day read, about Nayler.
Major-General Howard. I offer a petition from some ministers of the North in relation to this business of the Quakers. Haply it may be some information to your proceedings in this particular.
Mr. 4 brought in another long petition from Cheshire, to the same purpose; desired that they might be read.
Mr. Robinson. I would not have you make any use of these petitions, or admit them upon your records as evidence. It is collateral matter, and ought not to be any direction to you, either to aggravate or extenuate the offense. These petitions may be offered more properly after.
Major-General Howard. True, there is nothing in this petition relating particularly to James Nayler. I would not offer anything that might aggravate the offense. For my part, I said something to express that I was not so severe as haply others are, especially in matter of punishment.
Mr. Nathaniel Bacon and Colonel Shapcot. I hope you will not rest here, but proceed to further judgment: lest it be said abroad, you have declared an offense, and have not a law to bring the offender to justice. I would have it referred to the same Committee to bring in a Bill of Attainder, with a blank for the punishment. I was sorry to hear it said in this House, that there was not such a thing as blasphemy.
Colonel Sydenham. Nothing said yesterday ought to be repeated today. I know not what you mean by a Bill of Attainder, if it be not to take away a man's life.
<640> If you bring a precedent to this purpose, you must set it upon the rack. To take away a man's life by a subsequent law, it is of dangerous consequence. I fear there is something in the bottom of such a motion which scarcely agrees with the rule of the gospel. To take away his life I am not satisfied, but am for some other secure way of punishment.
If Nayler be a blasphemer, all the generation of them are so, and he and all the rest must undergo the same punishment. The opinions they hold do border so near a glorious truth, that I cannot pass my judgment that it is blasphemy. I shall choose rather to live in another nation, than where a man shall be condemned for an offense done, by a subsequent law. I am against the Bill of Attainder.
Judge Smith. I have as tender a conscience as any man to tender consciences, and I am also as tender of the honor of God. How tender are we of our own privileges! not an arrest upon a footman but severely punished, as done to us; I doubt we shall be but too tender in this business.
What are we called in other nations, but the great nursery of blasphemies and heresies; and what will they say, now we have passed a vote against a horrid blasphemer, and we are at stand what to do with him. But we are afraid of a precedent. For my part, I am not afraid of this precedent; I am sorry there is occasion for it; but it were without precedent if we let it pass unpunished.
Was not the king justly condemned by the legislative power for tyranny, treason, and oppression? It was a just sentence. The like for the Earl of Strafford and the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Bishop of Rochester's cook, and Hackett, &c. Six or seven were condemned and hanged at Tyburn for speaking against the Book of Common Prayer, a slenderer offense than this.
Our laws make it death for robbing a man, though he take but 12d. from him. Burglary by night, though nothing be taken away, is death. Yet we make nothing of robbing God of his glory. My motion is, that a Bill of Attainder may be brought in; and if you have no other punishment, that you would fill up the blank with the old way of punishment, that he may be stoned to death.
Lord Strickland. I do agree with your vote, that he is guilty of blasphemy; but I hope, when you come to prepare your bill, you will not put in the word blasphemy; for it is a reproach of a man as well as against God.
The text of the Israelitish woman was that she blasphemed. The original is, "She cursed God." It is a word of a general acceptation. I would not have it in your bill generally, but as blasphemy against God, with a blank for the punishment. I would have his offenses <641> summed up, as his taking adoration, &c., in the preamble.
A man may be attainted of a riot, a trespass, but the proper attainder is of felony. The king's case was not by attainder, but by a high Court of Justice was he tried.
In the Earl of Strafford's case, counsel was heard on both sides, and he was attainted of treason. The Archbishop of Canterbury's case was upon the same ground. Hackett was proceeded against as a rebel. Some proceedings were by the bishops against heretics, but I never knew any law for it in England. I speak it not to extenuate this wicked wretch's offense, nor to lessen the power of Parliament; but I conceive it very proper for the consideration of a Parliament to beware of a precedent of this nature to posterity. There may be a Bill for banishment; for by the law no Englishman ought to be banished but by Act of Parliament. Nor can you properly pass any sentence upon him but you must do it by Bill. I am not satisfied in your judicial way of proceeding. I would have every Englishman be careful in this case. It has been our happiness to be governed by a known law. The Earl of Strafford's case is particularly excepted, not to be drawn into precedent.
I cannot say but we have laws enough to reach this offender, if the gentlemen of the long robe would direct us. Where most power of the gospel, most prodigies of heresies and opinions; which will happen always, unless you restrain the reading of the Scriptures.
Hackett was punished for setting himself up as a king; this fellow did more. He made himself higher, a pope, by suffering his feet to be kissed.
Heresies are like leaden pipes underground. They run on still, though we do not see them, in a commonwealth where they are restrained. Where liberty is, they will discover themselves, and come to punishment. There is no such need of drawing you out to such punishment as death. Restrain him, rather, to some country or place; banish him, &c. This House is a living law, but make as little use of the legislative power as you can. It is a dangerous precedent to posterity. It is against the Instrument of Government to proceed to further punishment upon this business. Confine him, banish him, or do what you will.
Major-General Jephson. I wonder such a doctrine should be broached in this House, that it is against the liberty of the people to have recourse to the legislative power. I think rather the contrary. The case of the Earl of Strafford only limits the judges not to proceed upon that law; but surely the gentlemen are mistaken who say the Parliament is restrained thereby. I know no such clause in that Bill. Doubtless you may resume that power when you please. I would, to choose, leave a precedent in this case to posterity. There is no danger at all in it.
<642> I hope God will stir up your zeal in a matter that so eminently concerns the cause of God. We ought to vindicate his honor. For my part I am clearly satisfied that upon the whole matter this person deserves to die.
Major-General Desborough and Mr. Robinson. You should adjourn this debate for an hour. Some had dined and were upon an advantage.
Resolved, That this debate be adjourned till three o'clock.
I went with Mr. Desborough to dine with cousin Highmore and the company of cloth workers, in London, and the reading their brief of eleven sheets kept me till night, so that I was not at the beginning of this debate. But Major Brooke told me some part of it.
It seems there had been strong endeavors to qualify and lessen the crime. Captain Baynes used the argument to spare him thus: "Nayler prophesied of his death; let us make him a liar by saving his life." Major Brooke answered: "By this rule the murderer, and felon, and robber, may say they prophesied their death. Will you, therefore, spare them? You will have a good many prophets upon this account." Sir Gilbert Pickering had been speaking a good while, to lessen the offense, and was at it when I came in. He concluded for some lesser punishment than death, to be inflicted, as whipping.
Sir Charles Wolseley. It is most orderly, first to agree of the punishment, and then to bring in a Bill, if a Bill be proper; which I question.
The legislative power of Parliament is great, but not so as to be taken up upon this occasion. I am afraid of an ill precedent. As I would have us bear our witness against this crime, yet I would have us do justice in a just way. We may not, by the legislative power, do what we please, call that an offense which is not. We have also a Master in heaven, to whom we must give an account.
I cannot apprehend this matter to be of that height as to merit the punishment of death. I am for a lesser punishment, as pillory, imprisonment, whipping, or the like.
Major Beake made a long speech to prove it to be blasphemy. It was dark, and I could not take it; but his conclusion was, that he conceived it was a fit punishment to cut out his tongue, and cut off his right hand, and then turn him beyond seas, and let him go with the mark of a blasphemer.
Lord President made a long speech to extenuate the offense, and concluded for a moderate punishment, as whipping and imprisonment. Mutilation was as bad as death. He made an apology, that he had nothing to say for Nayler; he had no favor for him more than upon account of tenderness. He called him an erring person.
Sir Richard Onslow. I am fully satisfied that the offense is blasphemy, <643> and deserves to be punished as blasphemy; but would have a blank brought in for the punishment, in the Bill of Attainder. Make the punishment what you will, you must have recourse to the legislative power. Your judgment must be ex post facto if you pass any sentence at all in it.
Major-General Kelsey. A Committee should be appointed to consider of a way of punishment, and present it to you.
Lord Fiennes made a long speech, to extenuate the offense. Hath not heard the party, nor anything of the business, yet submits to your vote. Cannot agree to punish it by death, or mutilation of any members. Would have him put into Bridewell and whipped, and so humbled into a conviction, and that, in the meantime, the person and the charge might be sent to his Highness, for his satisfaction in the matter; and this sentence to pass upon him by Bill of Attainder.
Colonel Mathews. It has been firsted, seconded, and thirded. I desire the first question may be put, about bringing in a Bill of Attainder. I shall reserve my judgment, wherein I shall haply be very moderate respecting the crime.
Lord Chief-Justice. As this is without precedent, I would have us very tender what we do in this business. I am altogether unsatisfied in passing sentence of death upon him; but some lesser punishment, as pillory, whipping at the places where the offense was committed, and to be debarred all society, &c, and this by a judicial way, which I question whether it be solely in the Parliament, or in them and his Highness, as affairs stand now.
Sir Richard Piggot proposed that his tongue might be bored through.
Sir Thomas Wroth. The question should be for the Bill of Attainder, with a blank for the punishment. I conceive the offense is very high, and ought to have punishment proportioned.
Mr. Bampfield made a very large and handsome speech in answer to what Lord President, Lord Fiennes, and Lord Chief Justice, and the rest of the merciful men had said; such as they were scarce able to reply to. He proved it, that it was the mind of God to punish this offense with death, and he could not pass his judgment otherwise.
The magistrate is custos tam primae quam secundae tabulae, else I understand nothing. That of Rom. 13 is clear. That of suffering the tares to grow with the wheat, was not spoken to the magistrate, but to private persons.
1. Argument. By the law of nature, it is blasphemy to deny a deity.
2. The judicial law as to the equity, is moral to us.
3. That law of Darius against those that should speak evil of Daniel's God.
4. The example of our Savior's suffering is drawn thus. If he had <644> not been really Christ, then had the Jews done justly in crucifying him. For the Spirit of God holds this forth plainly, that the charge laid against him was, that he, being a man, called himself God. And was this offense of Nayler's less than calling himself God, and assuming the name, title and incommunicable attributes of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and the worship due him? If this be not blasphemy, then there is no blasphemy in the world.
I thought to have reserved my judgment as to the punishment, but seeing all along the debate has run to confound the crime and punishment together, my humble opinion is, that his crime deserves to be punished with death.
Colonel Chadwick. First whip him for the lesser crime, as for being a seducer and an impostor, and haply that may work him into a sense of sorrow. If not, then proceed to higher sentence upon the higher offense.
Sir John Reynolds. I would have your time saved, and not go this long way to work, by a Bill, but proceed to pass some moderate punishment upon him, as whipping and imprisonment; and that by the judicial way: but to punish with death, I am against it.
Mr. Robinson. I would not have you trouble yourselves with a Bill of Attainder, which will take up two or three days of your time; but pass some such moderate punishment as offered to you, by a vote.
Mr. Speaker offered as an addition to the question, that Nayler might ride backwards on horseback through Bristol and the other towns he had passed through, and from Westminster to the old Exchange, &c.
Sir William Strickland. I see many persons that are up to speak in this business. I would have no man hindered from declaring his conscience to the full, so desire that this debate be adjourned till tomorrow.
Mr. Bond. I second that motion, for I had something upon my own spirit which I thought to speak; but I desire rather that you would adjourn. It is late, and others I see desire to be heard; but, Mr. Speaker, I would have you keep us to our orders, that none may speak tomorrow that has already spoken to this question. The Speaker said he would keep us to it.
Resolved, That this debate be adjourned till tomorrow morning. We sat till almost nine, it being the last night of the natural life of this Parliament.
Mr. Speaker minded us of the order of the day, which was read; and also the question for the moderater punishment.
Mr. Speaker was going to put it, but they cried "No! the questions." He should be whipped from place to place, ride backwards on horseback, <645> and be imprisoned till released by Parliament, kept to hard labor, &c.
Colonel Milton. By this question it seems you have forgot what you voted the night before. This is like condemning a man for high treason, and punishing him with the pillory.
When the life of a man and the honor of God comes in competition, I cannot but say we ought to prefer God's glory. Surely we ought.
These vipers are crept into the bowels of your Commonwealth, and the government too. They grow numerous and swarm all the nation over; every county, every parish. I shall turn Quaker too; but not in that sense.
I remember what an honorable person in my eye, Major-General Skippon, said of the growth of these. He feared more the growth of these, than all the foreign and intestine enemies. Remember Eli's case. What will it be said abroad, if you pass this heinous crime without your due resentment of it? You may guess my conclusion from my premises. It is your duty to vindicate the honor of God and of Christ Jesus. I desire that a Bill of Attainder may be brought in, not with a blank, but with a full punishment, that is, death. That is my humble motion.
Colonel Cooper. I shall not speak to lessen or extenuate James Nayler's crime; I see the House inclined to a division upon the manner of punishment. I should be loath, but we should be unanimous in it. It is no wonder to find this fellow acting these practices; for he is in Satan's hands, being cast out of a church for his opinions and lewd carriage.
I dare not say he has blasphemed. It is grievous to me to see the crime so magnified. There is certainly a blasphemy greater than this, as the denying or cursing of Christ.
His suffering himself to be worshipped; I would have the House consider of that distinction. This is a nice distinction, a vast difference between Christ dwelling in us, and being worshipped in a creature. I confess I never heard of the like of him. The like distinction of his assuming the attributes. I must agree, if the spirit of Christ had been in him, as he pretended, his carriage had been otherwise. It is certainly darkness and a strong delusion.
I cannot say this is horrid blasphemy, though there may be blasphemy horrid, and more horrid, and most horrid. I offer it to you, whether it were not a greater blasphemy to say he were very Christ.
I have observed much division in the manner of punishment, and some alteration in men's judgments, that were once against a Bill of Attainder, because of the tediousness of it. They talked of three days time of sitting, now they scruple not to take up three weeks time, having no more assurance of sitting than we had before.
I cannot but say it is blasphemy. But admit it were horrid blasphemy, as my judgment is now involved in your vote, yet I cannot be <646> satisfied that the House are any way led to pass such a heinous punishment as death. I understand no such obligation upon us. That is something extreme, and it is hard to lead this House into such a judgment, as to pass sentence of death against such a person as fears God, by what we have heard.
Precedents are urged, but nothing relating to this business, I am satisfied that the House may exercise their legislative power for a matter ex post facto; for if you do anything in this business, it must be by this power, and no other.
I know some part of the land mourns for the innocent blood already shed upon this account. I cannot say this person is innocent; yet if we take his life where God does not require it, that is a shedding of innocent blood. I fear as much a judgment upon us, if we take his blood, as they fear if we go less.
This House may proceed to fine, imprisonment, and corporal punishment, and this in a judicial way, without preparing a Bill. In my opinion there needs no Bill. His fine will signify nothing; but he has a body. I would have you use some endeavor to suppress the growth of them in general. If you take this man's blood, you do certainly lay a foundation for them. Instead of taking away Quakerism, you establish it.
For my part, I think, next to life, you cannot pass a greater punishment than perpetual imprisonment, where he may not spread his leprosy. If you cut out his tongue, he may write, for he writes all their books. If you cut off his right hand, he may write with his left. The other punishments will certainly answer your ends more than if you take his life, and be a better expedient to suppress that generation of them.
Mr. Bond. My memory will not serve to repeat all the arguments that have been used in this case. The Earl of Strafford's was a complicated offense; so the Archbishop of Canterbury's. He was tried in the same way for innovating a new religion. That Parliament left two precedents. I am not afraid of a precedent in this case; but I would have this Parliament to leave such a precedent in this very case. I shall tell you a relation from very good hands, merchants, &c. The Parliament of Bordeaux have hanged, drawn and quartered a Quaker for these very opinions. That Parliament will rise up in judgment against you. I would have you consider what vote you have made, and how you can go less than the punishment equivalent.
I would have you go the same way with this man as they did with the Archbishop of Canterbury. Resume the power of Parliament in this case, and trouble not the Lord Protector with it. Cut off this fellow, and you will destroy the sect. The like issue was in that statute for restraint of Egyptians, and they quickly vanished.
<647> I would have you take the judgment of this business upon yourselves, and never go to try him without doors. I shall freely give my vote that the fellow shall die for this offense, and I know not how you can, with honor and safety to this nation, do anything less. I would have you lay aside the other question, and put this.
Major-General Packer. It has been alleged that God himself directed the punishment of an offender, in this kind, with death. Are we as equal judges herein as God was?
You have voted this person guilty of horrid blasphemy; but you have not brought it home to that case wherein God directed the punishment: for he cursed God, which this man hath not done. Few of us but are blasphemers in one sense. Job and his three friends were blasphemers. This person tells you there is but one God, Father, Son, and Spirit. A strange notion that the Holy Spirit dwells personally and essentially in them; yet I know many godly men of this opinion.
He does not vilify Christ, deny his doctrines, miracles, sufferings, and looking for his coming, though he draws dangerous principles from them. This is no parallel. That man's blasphemy was cursing God. This is of a lesser nature, though an offense very high.
Magistrates in the Jewish commonwealth, and in Christian commonwealths, do very much differ in their jurisdiction, in matters of religion. To them it was more peculiar; for by that text we are safe. God has not declared that we should put this man to death. I would have him live to repent; nay, if it be but to make a show of repentance.
We may commit a crime, and trespass upon the common law, by introducing the Jewish law, which does not agree with us, with our tempora. The martial law is a good law in its own body; but apply it to other purposes, it is a bad and tyrannical law. Going a mile from one's colors is death by that law. "God forbid," will a conscientious man say, "to hang a man for going a mile from his colors."
A good law in one nation is a bad one in another. Our law makes burglary and theft death; which is a good law for this nation: yet God's judgment was otherwise. The like for breach of the Sabbath. It was death by that law to gather sticks; and by your law, a man may work all day, and pay but his ten shillings or five shillings, so that it is no example for us to keep to those Jewish laws, seeing we differ from them in other cases,
But it is said, was not Darius a heathen king, and he made a law against blaspheming our God? How can we do too much for God? Had he caused that God to be preached through all his kingdom he had done God better service; but he lived and died a heathen.
That text in Zech. 13:3, "He that speaks lies in the name of God, <648> his parents shall thrust him through." This cannot come near our case. For if so, we must destroy all sects, Socinians, Arminians, Quakers, and what not; nay, every man that speaks a lie. Few will escape this law.
It is the strain of the gospel all along, to use meekness and moderation (instanced in tares and wheat, and "Ye know not what spirit ye are of," &c.; and the like old texts). Did Paul make any complaint to the magistrate against Elymas, the sorcerer, who was a blasphemer indeed?
But it is said, what will people say? It matters not what they say, so we do our duty. That is, to give every man his native liberty, which is given in Holland, Poland, and other countries, a free exercise of their consciences. What have we to do with what a company of Papists in the Parliament of Bordeaux did? It may as well be said, the Spanish Inquisition may rise up in judgment against us. Tares may turn to wheat, he may be converted, saving with fear, plucking him out of the fire; let us not cast him into hell. You had as good cut off his head as his hand or his tongue. That tongue that has blasphemed, may glorify God, as it was the case of Paul. He may write to glorify God.
I could name a man that has been a far more horrid blasphemer than this man, yet he is reclaimed, and become a very useful instrument in the Church.
You may as well condemn a Papist for worshipping Christ in the bread and wine, as in this case of Nayler's.
I desire you would put the question for the moderater punishment, and that without a Bill, which is a tedious way, and you may rise without doing anything at all.
Major-General Skippon. I did not speak to this business. I am not fond of speaking. I shall not trouble you with answering what that gentleman said, though, for my part, I am altogether unsatisfied with what arguments he used to extenuate the offense. I have been much divided in myself between duty and pity. It labored much to cast something upon your late vote. For my part, I hear nothing said against it, that can convince my judgment but that the person is clearly guilty of blasphemy, horrid blasphemy. All sober Christians will so conclude it.
It seems there is a paper offered at the door, that we would assign what is blasphemy, that others may beware of it. I think it is no hard thing to assign, so that this House need not be at a stand in this case. I am, from these arguments, already much confirmed in my judgment, against that conflict I had between pity and duty.
If any should assume the title or honor of the supreme magistrate, should he not be hanged, drawn, and quartered? This is the case. God has brought this business before you, and if you let it slip, take heed of a judgment. I would have a Bill of Attainder, with a blank, brought in. <649> If God give you not time to do what you would do, it is sufficient that you endeavor what you should do.
Major-General Whalley. Here have been long debates in this business, occasioned by the rambling into the matter of fact, which I hope we are over. I shall speak to the punishment, and I would have this agreed on in peace and charity; that those that are for a low punishment might not be censured for coldness, nor those for a higher punishment censured for a preposterous zeal. I premise this.
I beseech you, consider what the offense is: it is blasphemy, horrid blasphemy. We are now to consider a proportionable punishment, which, in short, in my opinion, cannot be less than death. It is told you by the long robe, we have no law in being against such offenders. I am sorry for it. But where any law is against blasphemy, what is the punishment? is it less than death?
The Turks (though I propound them not to be imitated by us) put men to death for speaking against Mahomet, who is but a prophet.
It was Nebuchadnezzar's law, and a good law, against those that should speak evil against the God of Shadrach, &c. The example of God himself, against the blasphemer, and then the precept upon it.
Examples, though they are not obliging as precepts, yet certainly they are imitable where they are good. The paraphrase of the Assembly of Divines upon the text interprets it both blasphemy and cursing. God provides a law both against cursing and blasphemy to meet with our object. "The curser shall bear his sin, and the blasphemer shall surely die"; so that both cursing and blasphemy are there made capital.
But, if guilty of blasphemy, some object, why to be put to death? If it be a law of God, a moral law of God, I would fain know how it is repealed. Some, from the comprehensiveness of the word blasphemy; others, that it is ex post facto; others, a ceremonial; others, a judicial law; others, that we are now under Gospel administrations. They have been all fully spoken to, so that I shall not trouble you to answer it. If men will commit unheard-of sins, is it not just that they suffer by an unheard-of law and punishment? Else it may be said, we want a law.
If it be ceremonial, I desire to know of what it is a type, or where abolished.
If a judicial law, ought not we to be as careful of suffering blasphemy as the Jews were?
But the great noising argument is, that we are under Gospel dispensation. Pardon my comparison. This is but like ignis fatuus. Does this gospel-liberty give us a freedom of sinning? Nay, is it not said (Hebrews 2), "How much more ought we to walk more closely and uprightly before God"? If not to commit sin, then certainly not to <650> connive at, not to tolerate sin.
James and John's calling down fire from heaven was not for blasphemy. It was for not receiving Christ. Should we put every man to death that will not receive Christ?
That of pardoning the woman taken in adultery, might not he that was Lord of all pardon her, as well as he gave directions to spoil the Egyptians; must we undertake to pardon sins and imitate God in this?
Gathering sticks upon the Sabbath day: it was not death for breach of the Sabbath, but for working on the Sabbath. I know no reason, but we may make the same law against working on the Sabbath.
But it is against the tenor of the Gospel, they say. It is true we ought to love one another, but not so as to exclude our love to God. Have we not as well the example of Ananias and Sapphira's being put to death?
God has made a law to punish blasphemy, and what are we poor worms going about to repeal that law? Where do we find it repealed?
But I had forgot to answer the objections as to the comprehensiveness of the word. True it is male dicere. To speak evil of any man is blasphemy; but we must go to the common acceptation of the word. We call nothing blasphemy, but what is a speaking against God, and assuming his worship, which, take this person's principles and practices together, he is guilty of the horridest blasphemy that ever was. It was told you of a great blasphemer that was brought home. It was Mr. Sedgwick. Before his Highness, and Lord Ireton, and others, and myself, he said he was God; and divers horrid things, which we went out, and could not bear. I met him afterwards, and did not salute him, for I thought I ought not to do it. But a while after he thanked me for it, and did acknowledge his error, and that he was but a man, &c. He was not so great a blasphemer as this person. That was but the effects of his frenzy; but this man doth it upon sober and deliberate grounds; and, take practice and principles completed, it is higher by much than any I ever yet heard. Let the sentence of death pass upon him, and then use all means possible to reclaim. Give him six weeks or a longer reprieve, and execute no sentence upon him till his obstinacy do fully appear.
Colonel Shapcot and Major-General Desborough. Lest you kill yourselves, by voting by what death he shall die, I would have you adjourn till tomorrow morning.
Mr. Church. I would not have us adjourn till tomorrow. Take it up this afternoon, not to delay a business which you have sat nine times about. It is time now to resolve.
Major-General Skippon. You are very near a question. I am not willing to rise till we do something in it. The question, whether death or not, will determine it, and declare your sense.
<651> Mr. Nathaniel Bacon. It is more than you can promise yourselves, tomorrow. This is the last day of sitting for aught I know. I would have you bear as much testimony against it as you can, in the time you have allotted you.
Captain Hatsel. I would have you adjourn till tomorrow; for I would say something to the business, before your question, and I believe so would others. But make it so that nothing should intervene. You spend much time in the morning.
Mr. Speaker. Truly, I am not able to sit out these long debates, forenoon and afternoon; but, if it be your pleasure, I shall be willing to spend my life in your service.
Colonel Hewitson. Though the business before you be a work of darkness, yet I would not have your debate or determination to be so; but do it in the day, in the light, that all the world may see you bear your testimony against it.
Resolved, That this debate be adjourned till tomorrow morning at eight, and no business to intervene.
The Speaker read the Question for the moderate punishment, and it was cried for, till stood up
Mr. Drake. If you had not passed so great a vote, I should not have said anything in it. I should willingly have saved his life, if the height of the offense had not called for a greater punishment.
If we pass this, it will have an influence upon all inferior courts. Let us consider the danger of the precedent, as well on the one side as the other. It is said that some would wash their hands of Nayler's blood. I shall desire to wash my hands of the guilt of giving less than death. Let us consider the honor of God, and the obligation upon us to vindicate it. See what the nation expects from us in this thing. I cannot go less than to desire that the vote may pass for his death. He has prophesied of his death, and let him be convinced.
Colonel Hewitson. If you have a law, I desire you will put it in execution. If you have no law, the Scripture tells you, then there is no transgression. I cannot take that text of the Ishmaelite's child, as any way coming to our case. If his parents should thrust him through, this, by our laws, would be murder. If you take this man's life, by the same rule you might have taken away the life of a Paul, for he confessed himself to be a blasphemer. We may do the like with all the <652> Jews, Turks, and Infidels, for they deny Christ, which were an absurdity to hold forth. I cannot give my consent to the greater punishment; but if you put the Question for the lesser, you shall have my yea.
Major-General Goffe. This is a very great and weighty business, and I am much troubled to speak anything in this business. I am sorry to see this division amongst us, but I hope it will end in amity, love, and charity. For my part, I cannot be satisfied in myself to give my consent to less than the death of this man.
Is it not written upon every man's heart that a blasphemer should die? No nation in the world, that have any laws, but they have a law to put a blasphemer to death. But it is said, we have no law to punish blasphemy, because the bishops are taken away. It was just to deliver us from them and their tyrannical proceedings, but I hope the law remains still. That ecclesiastical power is devolved upon you, and you have justly assumed it, and passed your vote upon it.
I have already told you my thoughts, that I cannot but, from the whole matter, judge this person deserving of death, and that from the Report itself.
He hath assumed the names, titles, attributes, and worship due to Christ, and these are my grounds. It is the law of this nation, of all nations, and written upon every man's heart, that a blasphemer should die. But it is said, he is such a person, and such a person. What has he been, a man professing religion, and a member of a Church. Was he not cast out by a Church of Christ for this very offense? Those who are the proper judges of blasphemy; they have delivered him to Satan, to the end he might be humbled; but what has he done instead of humbling himself before God, or to the Church? He resists that authority. I remember not the text in the Hebrews, "he that hath tasted of life," &c. He puts our Savior Christ to open shame, and sets himself above that Church, nay, above all mankind, sets himself up as a Savior, &c.
Let us consider (1 John 2:19): "They went out from us, but they were not of us." He is gone out, so we need not stand so much upon tenderness. He has left to be a sheep, and has discovered himself to be a wolf, and so is all the generation of them. They go about and revile the ordinances and ministers of Christ, and would tear the flesh off the bones of all that profess Christ. These are the dry dead sticks which men gather and cast into the fire: the husbandman will not chide you for taking away dead dry sticks, for they cumber the grass; and these are such.
They are like Jannes and Jambres, men of no judgment concerning the faith, only resist the truth. Their folly is manifest to all men.
They are natural brute beasts, and under all these considerations they justly fall under the hand of the civil magistrate.
<653> I find this business to be a matter of great concernment to the peace of the nation, and this is sent to us to try what we will do in it. Christ is the King of this nation, and of all nations, and we ought to vindicate the honor of our King.
Wherever such things rise, they are to me sad presages of the ruin and destruction of a nation.
Revelations 2:20 deserves your consideration. It is laid severely to the Church of Thyatira's charge, about the woman that blasphemed. He that reads that description of Christ will find it to be otherwise than that which Publius Lentulus sent to the senate of Rome.
The text says, they shall surely be put to death. That magistrate is not worthy to bear the sword that will not bear his highest testimony against those that dishonor Christ in this blasphemous manner.
We have been long looking for peace. This Parliament and all Parliaments, the people's great query has been, shall we have peace? What will Christ answer us? No peace to the wicked. This hinders our peace and settlement, that we are not zealous to vindicate him and his honor, when it is thus affronted. I take this person at the bar to be far from being the Prince of Peace, but he rather proceeds from the power of another prince.
I shall not entertain an irreverent thought of The Instrument of Government. I shall spend my blood for it. Yet if it hold out any thing to protect such persons I would have it burnt in the fire. This were a paling sheep and the wolves together. Do not these go in the way of Cain and Balaam to corrupt and poison, by the Jesuitical principles amongst them? Instead of protecting God's people and tender consciences, you take away the fence of God's people. I should desire that he might be a brand snatched out of the fire, if it were possible; but as the matter stands before you, I cannot give my vote for less than death, and I would have you keep us to that question.
Mr. Secretary [Thurloe]. Seeing others have taken the liberty to repeat the matter of fact, I shall take a little privilege to speak too. I look upon this person, and all the generation of them, as such as have gone in the way of Cain. He is vile in his principles and in his practices too.
You may certainly, in heinous and enormous crimes which are clear to the House, make a law ex post facto, either to heighten the punishment, as in the case of the Bishop of Rochester's cook (21 Henry VIII). It was murder before, and by that Act made treason. This was not only malum prohibitum, but malum in se, and this is the case before you.
You must now proceed upon lex Terrae, the legislative power. I shall not take upon me to determine the power of the civil magistrate in matter of religion, nor as to his being custos utriusque tabulae; but I <654> think this is "an iniquity to be punished by the judges." Though I am not of my neighbor's mind (Major-General Goffe) that the magistrates' slackness in matters of religion is the reason of all calamities falling upon a nation.
I do think it is not the consequence of your former vote, that nothing less than death should be the punishment of the offender. It is not set forth how blasphemy. If that was meant, you might have made it one vote, both the offense and the punishment. Otherwise, many are surprised in it, and upon this account you may alter your vote.
I desire, however, rather to run into the absurdity of punishing him as a rogue. My ground is upon the Report, wherein the gentlemen have taken great pains, and the Report is foul enough; and what he said at the bar I could not comprehend. They were all cantings, such as could not cant with my thoughts. I am of opinion that he is a gross idolater, and an impostor and deceiver, and you ought to bear your testimony against it. But I cannot agree that his punishment should be death. Let it be of a lower sort, and go as high in the punishment as you please.
I should be sorry to see those old laws against heretics put in execution now. I know no law in force at this day against blasphemy, unless it be that of the Old Parliament.
Objection. 1. It is against the law of God, Lev. 24:16, and this law is moral and perpetual, and ought to be obeyed, and this man ought to suffer by it.
Answer. We have no such blasphemy before us (admit it to be a blasphemy) as was to be punished by that law. Nor should we put men to death by consequences and inferences. It was a penal law, a cursing, a speaking evil of God.
That person that was executed in the Queen's time was for treason. He said he was Christ, and come with his fan in his hand, and that he was to govern the nation. He desired a miracle upon the gallows to witness his innocency and truth in this appearance, but none came.
The Jews put Christ to death for that which was not blasphemy by any law they had, but by their false glosses and interpretations in which we are too apt to proceed. I would fain hear any man give me another precedent in Scripture, declaring what is blasphemy.
2. This law is moral—"As well the stranger, &c. shall be put to death"; so that this is not positive only to the Jews, but moral and perpetual to all nations.
That is to be understood of the proselytes of the outer gate and the inner gate. It is certain, to blaspheme or take the name of God in vain is against the law of God; but we find none put to death upon that law. <655> Moses knew the law of nature better than any that sit here; but what did he do with the blasphemer? He "put him in ward," but never went to judgment till he had the mind and pleasure of God in it.
So that this is not so clear an offense against the law of nature as some would have it.
Objection. The judicial law is in force.
Answer. If that be of force, all the circumstances of that law must be observed. You must lay hands upon him, and cast him out, and stone him, and that city must be pulled down, never to be built again.
Objection. That of the false prophets belonging to gospel times, and ought to follow that prophecy.
Answer. If meant of all the Gentiles, then, certainly, a great many must be put to death.
English divines' exposition saith upon that text, that this prophecy related only to the zeal of entertaining the gospel truths. But it is clear that it belonged only to the Jews, and is fulfilled already; or a prophecy of the restoration of the Jews. There shall be such a zeal amongst them, that there shall be no idols, no heresy, nor error amongst them. There is another way under the gospel, to bear witness against such, than by punishment by death. I think there is no consequence at all, from any of the objections, that the legal punishment should now be made Christian; that being plainly a prophecy of the Jewish restoration.
I know not how that example of Ananias and Sapphira came in as argument in this business. That was an extraordinary testimony that Christ himself was pleased to bear against them.
The administration of the gospel is quite otherwise. Shall a minister of the gospel put a man to death for adultery, because Phineas did it under the law? My opinion is clear that the question should be put for the lesser punishment.
Major-General Boteler. I hope there is no man here but has sought God what to say, before he spoke in this business.
If it cannot be made out clearly by Scripture, that by the law of God this man is guilty of blasphemy, to be punished with death, I shall be of their opinion. I think that law made against blasphemy in Leviticus is as binding to us at this day, as surely as that against murder, which follows in the next verse. Either it must be ceremonial or political. I hear none say it is ceremonial. We are not obliged, strictly, to observe all the ceremonies used in the punishment. The text says this, "He shall surely die."
We go not about in this thing to confound the legal and gospel administrations. We ought to be meek and lowly, it is true. But what says the same text?—"Bring my enemies and slay them before me." <656> Our zeal for God's glory is as well commanded under the gospel as is meekness and lowliness. Can anybody tell what Paul's blasphemy was? It may be, it was but a blasphemous thought. If he had not confessed it, who could have witnessed against him? Surely they would not witness against him, that had run to the same excess. He did not confess it till after his conversion.
Job was under a temptation, and he might justly say, Ego non sum ego. This case differs.
But it is said, it will be an ill precedent. The next Parliament may come, by this rule, and put to death all that profess the true faith. There may be such a Parliament; and there have been such as were accounted the truest assertors of religion, that have died for heretics. Must we be afraid of doing our duty for that reason? If I were sure to lose my life in the next Parliament, for the principles I hold now, I should not stick to give my vote, that this man deserves death.
It is said, he denies not Christ, but confesseth him. This makes his offense the greater, to know Christ, and in plain practices to affront him.
Is this an offense like that of gathering sticks upon the Sabbath-day?
This man has gone all the steps that can be, to this height he is come to now, as his excommunication. Because we are under an administration of the gospel, "shall we sin, because grace abounds?" or countenance, or not bear our full testimony against it?
Shall we suffer Christ thus to be reproached? What will be said to us another day? "Did you not hear my name blasphemed and dishonored, and did you not extenuate and labor to lessen it?"
As we ought to be tender, on the one hand, of taking blood, so we ought to be as careful in sparing it. The greatest care in the world we ought to have of God's glory. He hath said he will not give it to another.
I humbly beseech you that we own God in this thing, and not be afraid of the person of any man, but declare our judgments freely in the business, with all Christian charity to one another, not censuring one for legal and strict, and another for loose and remiss. My judgment is very clear in this thing, that this person, upon the whole matter of fact, is worthy of death, and I desire a Bill of Attainder may be brought in to that purpose; and that is my humble motion.
Mr. Bodurda and Lord Strickland. Many would speak to it that have not spoken yet. Again, you will spoil Committees if you adjourn till the afternoon.
Sir John Reynolds and Colonel Mathews. We are all tender of your health, yet we must be all so tender in this matter of such consequence.
Colonel Clarke. For your health sake, let us adjourn till tomorrow.
Sir Charles Wolseley. I doubt we shall not dispatch it in an <657> afternoon. I desire we may consider your health, and our own, and take tomorrow for it.
The question arose about adjourning till two o'clock, or till tomorrow.
The House divided upon adjourning for two hours.
No. We that went out were 83. Sir Richard Piggot and Mr. Barrington [Tellers].
Yea. They that stayed in were 86. Sir John Hobart and Major-General Howard [Tellers].
Resolved: That this debate be adjourned till tomorrow.
Upon the order of the day.
Mr. Speaker twice read the question for the smaller punishment.
Mr. Bond and Mr. Bampfield. The proper question is for drawing up a Bill of Attainder, and that the person should suffer death. It was first moved, and by the Orders of the House it ought to be put, else you exclude their votes that are in the negative (if the question be put for the smaller punishment), for then he shall not be punished at all.
Alderman Foot and Major-General Goffe. The first question is most proper; for, however you have drawn up another question, and offered it, the sense of the House has gone as much the other way.
Lord Strickland and Colonel Rouse. The question for the smaller punishment ought to be put, for the sense of the House has gone that way.
Colonel White. You should put the question whether that question should be put. This will determine it: you having fully debated the business already.
Mr. Ashe, Junior. If that question be put, it cannot be adequate to the offense. If you adhere to your former vote, that he is a horrid blasphemer, you cannot go to less than the punishment by death. It is death by the common law, blasphemy and heresy, and it is true till 2nd Henry IV, there was not a statute for it; but the law is the same.
Mr. Robinson. By this rule all the protestants of England may suffer death, for I believe according to that rule, we shall be all heretics.
Mr. Bampfield and Major-General Goffe called him down: he had spoken before, viz. upon Tuesday night, at the post, near the bar.
Mr. Bedford. He did not speak to the debate, but only to the order as I remember; and he was called up against his will.
Sir William Strickland. We must, in a matter of this nature, <658> dispense with our orders in this case, and give every man his freedom to speak. I desire he may speak.
Major-General Whalley proposed that he might be heard, but not upon these grounds.
Major-General Desborough. Till we be of a better temper, so as to hear one another speak with patience, I would have us lay this business aside, and go to something else.
Major-General Kelsey proposed that he might be heard.
Mr. Church stood up to speak, but Mr. Speaker called him down, unless he spoke to Mr. Robinson's speaking.
Mr. Robinson. By that rule which Mr. Ashe offered, we must all suffer death. For the law he speaks of was made in the time of popery, when we were all accounted heretics and blasphemers. I desire to know whether, if the Papists should come to be our judges, we might not all suffer by this law. I like it not, to leave it arbitrary to the judgment of after parliaments to determine what is blasphemy. I shall not undertake to argue the merit of the cause. It has been fully debated. I cannot agree to that punishment by death; nor to dismember him, which is worse than death, for it is equal in torment. I had rather err in point of mercy, than exceed in justice.
I can freely concur with your question, and I think that will answer your end. For it is idleness has brought the fellow to these high notions; whereas hard labor will bring him to sleep, and consequently to settlement again. I would have you make him a false prophet as to the foretelling his death. I strive in all things to personate Christ. Let us make him a liar.
Mr. Bodurda. I question whether you ought to put either the one or the other question: for by this means you tacitly admit the power of the civil magistrate in matters of religion, which has been also debated. I conceive, under favor, that though this House may make a law, yet they cannot do it against the law. They are to keep to the rules of justice. I cannot say this person is worthy to die, so much as I understand of the business. Pardon my confusion, because of the complicateness of the question. I never heard of any punishment that had more than two ends: 1) Reclamatio, 2) Exemplum. If you put him to death you bar reclamation. For example: it is not likely to reclaim his followers in their errors. It will rather confirm them; for what he told you at the bar, I suppose, he has told his disciples also, that he must lay down his life. I cannot say this is an offense against the law of nature, but rather against the law of grace.
I cannot say the text is clear in the Old Testament, for to put a blasphemer to death.
<659> However, we are under a gospel administration, and no rule nor warrant there can be found for his punishment. I know nothing he has professed in the letter, against the law. The inward thoughts and opinions of men are not to be punished in this world. This is but only opinion in him.
I remember what was reiterated six or seven times by Mr. Bampfield: "The mind of God was clear to him." If you should call Nayler again, haply he would also say, "The mind of God was clear to him," and it may be proved just, by as many texts. I appeal to all, if any divines or others have been sent to discourse with him upon his opinions, or that he has been at any time told that his life was in danger, which was always the course with heretics, to use all endeavors, again and again.
I am also against your question for the smaller punishment, not that I would not have him punished at all. It will look very ridiculous upon your records.
Proceed either by your judicial or legislative way. I doubt whether you have all the power of the House of Lords transferred to you, or especially in this thing. You did take off the grand and high delinquent, the late king, by your legislative law, but this was just.
I deny that any part of the Report, as to his excommunication, was fully evidenced to the Committee; but if he was excommunicated, this makes more for James Nayler. If you punish him for this, you must punish twenty thousand as well as him. You must punish all the Jews; for those that never were of a church are all one with them that are excommunicated; else, I dare be bold to say, you do unjustly. Will you suffer the Jews to walk upon the exchange that deny Christ, and say he is an impostor, and put this man to death that acknowledgeth Christ, and all that is in the letter? I would have him either transferred to law, or otherwise make a speedy law against blasphemers, and you may soon overtake him by it; and in the meantime keep him close prisoner.
Mr. Bedford. If I could be at peace in my conscience in this thing, I should not have troubled you; for he that justifies the wicked, and he that condemns the innocent, are equally guilty.
It is told you that it is not granted whether the civil magistrate have any power in matters of religion. I hope there are few in this House that will deny it.
If I should not bear my testimony against this person, by telling you he deserves to die, I should be afraid to go out of this House.
I conceive, though we be under a different administration, yet the equity of the old law still remains to us, be it judicial or otherwise.
After Moses and Aaron had put in ward the person in Leviticus, <660> God decides the question, he shall die. I would fain have it answered, whether God has not by this made a law. The other text for gathering of sticks, is the like.
It was very well opened to you, that place of Zechariah; and I confess it much satisfies me, as an explanation of the law. As to the objection, if the law in Deuteronomy must now be observed, then the father and mother must thrust the blasphemer through. What is understood by the fifth commandment? Is not obedience to the magistrate and all superiors included under the title of father and mother? But, from gospel rules, I am satisfied in this sentence, which I am ready to give upon this person.
Heresies in the gospel are enumerated under the works of the flesh, and so to be punished by the magistrate. Let it be made out to me that a blasphemer is not an evildoer, then I will agree the civil magistrate has no power to punish. Where is there a rule in the gospel to punish an incestuous person, or a murderer? Yet I hope none will say these ought not to be punished with death. The equity of the law of old is the foundation of our law against such persons.
That parable of the tares and the wheat growing together cannot surely extend to the impunity of blasphemy. It may as well reach to murder and adultery, for David committed both, and yet became of a tare good wheat. It is clear to me that God's honor is more at the stake in this thing, than ever it was in this nation. It was prayed for you by the minister yesterday, that God would clothe you with zeal. I beseech God to direct you to do things for his glory. For my part, I dare not but freely deliver my opinion, that this person ought to die, and that is my humble motion.
Major-General Kelsey made a long repetition of the former debates.
The gentleman was mistaken who said the first punishment of sabbath breaking was not till the person was taken gathering of sticks. The law was made before, that the sabbath breaker should die the death. Yet so tender was Moses in the case of blood, that though he had a law for it, he did not do execution till he had asked counsel of God. There are but four texts, four examples in Scripture in this case; yet God, in them all, was consulted.
There may be a higher blasphemer than this man. He that cursed God was put to death; but you will hardly bring that to this case.
Nor was that blasphemy punishable, by the principles of nature, with death, till the law was instituted. Though the light of nature convince men of the sin of blasphemy, yet not of the punishment; though the sin was the same from the beginning against the Deity. This is a very high blasphemy, and a dishonor to God, and scandal to <661> Christian religion. But it cannot possibly be reduced to that case, so much insisted upon. A vast difference between this, and that of cursing the Creator. Conscience would fly in his face; but to resist or speak evil of Christ is not so great a blasphemy, for we cannot receive him unless it be given us of the Father.
Nobody will be against exasperating this offense under the gospel; but who shall be judge? I would fain have those gentlemen make it out, how those texts in the Old Testament and the New, do quadrare.
I hope that common law is out of doors, that was but too common. We shall never rake that out of the ashes. It was so common that it had left no Protestants in England. They were the heretics which that law designed as the gentleman mentioned.
It may be any man's case here. He knows not how to walk securely, if a man shall be punished by a law ex post facto. To make a law in any case to this purpose is dangerous, much more in a matter of this nature, which is so dark and difficult to know what the mind of God is in this thing. The Christians in New England, I had it from a good hand, do much wonder at the zeal of this Parliament in this case. I grant this is no argument to us, what they do; yet it may serve as well as that precedent which was urged to us from the Parliament of Bordeaux.
It is greatly to be doubted whether this person that has so far apostatized and fallen upon the rock, but he shall be broken in pieces. I have little hopes of him. Yet who can tell what hard labor and humbling of him may bring him to; but to take his life I cannot agree.
Colonel Briscoe. The distinction of blasphemies offered to you may be good in other cases; but, under favor, in this case there needs no distinction.
The Turks punish the Christian for blasphemies, and so the Jews. The arguments drawn from the consequences are: 1) No natural consequences, but only accidental, so that we ought not to fear any danger from that precedent. 2) It is said, he is under a delusion, therefore to be pitied. And say he does it, ignoranter, not per ignorantiam: this should rather aggravate than extenuate. Do we not say in indictment for murder, "by the instigation of the devil"? I appeal to yourself.
Again, this man's offense is more than an atheist's or a pagan's, for he had received the light, which divines call a species of sin against the Holy Ghost.
My reasons why the person ought to die:
1. I presume the common law, in this case, may be in force. The difference was de modo prosequendo.
You may proceed by the legislative power, and you cannot take a better rule than that in the Old Testament, your Master's rule, which is <662> like ipse dixit with Pythagoras's own scholars, or like est Aristotelis in the University.
But it is said, that of cursing God is a greater blasphemy. I grant it to be so in itself, but the circumstances of it may extenuate; for it was in his passion that he committed that cursing; but this offense of Nayler's is deliberate. The punishment in that text is reiterated, morte moriatur.
That of death for gathering sticks on the Sabbath-day was very well answered to you by the gentleman over the way. That was but singularis, and so ought not to be drawn into precedent.
3. This man's principles and practices are destructive to human society, as by destroying those of their own sect. Do not they all hold against the essence of government?
4. How pernicious have these men already been; how spreading, infectious, and contagious. The magistrates are nursing fathers, and ought to see to this. They increase daily. They have neglected the opportunity of all admonition, and so are left to punishment.
5. It robs God of his glory: instance Achan's case, &c., and God will not give his glory to another. He is jealous of it. I am as much for mercy as any man; but in this case, I cannot go less than death; but with this caution, that I would have him reprieved for a month, or six weeks, or longer, and send some divines and others to him, that, if possible, he may be recalled and restored, &c.
Lord Whitlock. Adjourn, for I see many desire to speak; and in this weighty business it is fit every man be heard out, which you have not time to do now.
Colonel Shapcot stood up to speak, but was cried down, but cleared himself that he had not spoken.
Sir William Roberts. If you hear Colonel Shapcot to the merits of the cause, you ought to hear Lord Whitlock first, for he only moved conditionally to adjourn, otherwise, that he might speak.
Colonel Shapcot. I shall not trouble you long. I hope it is agreed upon on all hands, that by the old law this very blasphemy is punishable by death. The question is now, whether you may pass that sentence upon him. In my own private opinion, I am satisfied for this offense Nayler ought to die.
But I sit here in a court, and upon that account I cannot give my vote that you shall pass a sentence of death upon him; that is, if you proceed judicially. I doubt you, having not a law, cannot properly do it in this way.
My motion was to go in the way of a Bill. Then you might have properly passed this sentence upon him; but you are out of that way now.
For my part, I think the smaller punishment will be sufficient <663> disgrace to the offender, and that would content me. I am not satisfied from any precedent or law now in force that you can proceed judicially to work in this matter. Now that the power of the House of Lords or the ecclesiastical power is in this house, I very much doubt whether you can take up the legislative power in all cases. Those precedents, before cited, do very much differ from this case in my judgment.
The power sticks most with me of anything. I confess, if I were satisfied in that, I should be of another opinion. But if you please to put the first question, it will soon be decided, and you must come to that at one time or other.
Mr. Nathaniel Bacon. I am for propounding of a new question. Otherwise, you exclude their votes that are for a higher punishment; for if they give their negative, and it pass, then the fellow shall have no punishment at all. But seeing that many stand up with a desire to speak, and others will speak to it, I desire you would adjourn the debate till tomorrow.
Resolved: that this debate be adjourned till tomorrow.
We were at dinner with Lord Richard Cromwell, per special invitation; Mr. Bampfield and divers others. Lord Richard was very clear in passing his judgment that Nayler deserves to be hanged, and he said he very much slighted Shapcot's motion. He, for his part, was clear in that Nayler ought to die.
This afternoon the grand Committee, but I was not there.
Mr. Speaker. Read the question for the smaller punishment.
Mr. Church. The Quakers are not only numerous but dangerous, and the sooner we put a stop, the more glory we shall do to God, and safety to this Commonwealth.
When I sat in the last Parliament, there was scarce the name of these; but their increase since is incredible.
Whatever they pretend, they cannot be a people of God. Christ's spirit is a meek spirit, but they are full of bitterness in reviling the ministers and magistrates.
The people are amazed very much (as I am informed) at our slow motion in this business. They know not the reason. For my part, I incline rather to the corporal punishment.
"Because thou hast spared a man," &c. (1 Kings 20), "that should have died," &c., "therefore," &c., I must say as Jehoshaphat said (2 Chron.).
<664> Take heed what you do, for you judge not for men, but for God. We must one day answer to God for all things we do, even for this business; so that I cannot marvel at our care herein. The love of Christ constrains us. If we have love to Christ, we cannot suffer him to be dishonored. We must not do our own will, but his will. I pray God reveal it to us what is his will. If he have said, the offender ought to die, we ought not to spare him. I pray God direct us.
Lord Whitlock. I agree with the gentleman that spoke last, that if it be the will of God that this person should die, we ought not to spare him; but the question is, whether it is the will of God or no—whether there be a law of God. For my part, I think there is no such law. I have read the text in the original in Leviticus. It signifies as much as a cursing or denying Jehovah. Moses was a wise man, yet he would do nothing in it without the advice and counsel of God.
I conceive this was no standing law, but only binding to the Jews. The morality may extend to us, but the modus puniendi, that is not moral.
I do not understand anything that James Nayler said to be the denying or cursing of Jehovah, God, or Christ, so not within that text (Lev, 24:16). He acknowledgeth Christ that died in Jerusalem to be his mediator. He has committed a very heinous and execrable sin in suffering adoration to be done to him. He says Christ dwells in him. This is an opinion held forth in many places. The Lutherans hold the ubiquity of Christ, & we are not filii but filius Dei.
That account of excommunication is much mistaken. He is not delivered over to Satan, to be understood of the devil.
I am not satisfied by anything in the law of God, that we ought to proceed against this man to death. Nor am I satisfied the magistrate, in all cases, ought to be judge of offenses against the law of nature.
But by the common law, lex terrae, this person is punishable. I have seen indictments in the Upper Bench for lesser matters, for broaching opinions to raise sedition amongst the people, and I wish we had not meddled with this business, but sent him over to the Upper Bench.
But for us to pass sentence of death upon this person, I know neither law nor precedent for it.
It will be of a dangerous consequence for you to make a law for punishing of an offense by death, which was not so punishable before. One parliament may count one thing horrid blasphemy, another parliament another thing. The word blasphemy is very comprehensive. There may a time come, when the word blasphemy may be as far extended as was heresy, in the case, as in Hen. VII, where a man was condemned <665> for a heretic because he said he did not know whether by the law of God tithes were payable or no. We ought to look for our posterity, and the danger to leave such a precedent upon your records. I am very well satisfied that the lesser punishment will be adequate enough, and save the honor of your vote and your time too; or, to satisfy those gentlemen that are for his death, you may add to your question, that the person shall stand committed till he recant, or till the Parliament take further course for his more exemplary punishment, and this may happily give more satisfaction, as well within doors as without.
Mr. Bisse. If you put the question for the smaller punishment, you exclude all their votes that are for the higher, for they will give their negatives; and if they carry it, then the person shall have no punishment at all. I desire you would either put the first and proper question, or put the question whether this question shall be put or no.
Sir William Strickland. We ought to have a special reflection upon what we have done in our vote for our directions in the punishment. I know nothing in the Report, but what the party confessed himself at the bar; from his very reum confitentem, was sufficient convincement to me in voting the offense to be horrid blasphemy.
For my part, I am clearly satisfied in the offense, that it is as heinous as can be; but I am not so clear in the manner of punishment. For if we take our rules from those texts that have been urged, I doubt we must also observe the rules in other cases, as to make Sabbath breaking and disobedience to parents, death. I am not clear how to execute these laws in the one and not in the other.
If salus populi were concerned, then suprema lex ought to be resumed; but in this case the precedent may be dangerous. I hope we shall provide a way, for the future, to nip these cockatrices in the egg.
I cannot, without doubting, agree to those that would have him punished with death. Quod dubitas ne feceris. I shall honor those persons too, while I live. I shall submit to the smaller punishment, though I am not satisfied of the adequateness of the punishment. I would have this man so restrained as that he may never do more harm. I would have him perpetually imprisoned, and that is a kind of a civil death; but for the other punishment, I do very much doubt in myself.
Mr. Nathaniel Bacon. I cannot be satisfied but that this man's offense deserves the highest punishment.
The light of nature teaches a Deity, and a punishment for the dishonor of that God, as well as the honor.
How did the heathens put to death so many martyrs?
1. For disobeying their idol gods, but by the law of nature.
2. Nebuchadnezzar, by the same law, put the three children in the <666> fiery furnace.
3. The case of Gideon and his men, in Judges (6:25-31), for pulling down the altars. They durst not do it by day. But they soon knew who had done it, and said, "Bring them forth that we may kill them."
But not only the law of nature, but of God, teaches us to vindicate the honor of God, and God in three persons, and no other God.
I cannot understand the majus and minus from those that say the cursing of God, as to say he is cruel, unjust, or the like, is a greater offense than this blasphemy before you. This destroys the second person of the Trinity, and sets it up in a creature, so that it is not only a dishonoring of God, but a supplanting and taking him wholly away.
This is an offense not only against the law of nature but against the light of the law of God, revealed in the Scripture, which is the highest light in the world.
Does not he say that God-man dwells personally in James Nayler and ought to be worshipped? Is not this utterly against the light manifested in the Three Persons of the Trinity and God? If this be not the highest blasphemy that is, I know not what it is. He does (as much as in him is) destroy the very foundation of our faith and religion. This seducing of his comes clearly up to that of Deuteronomy 13, and in Zechariah too. I say this case comes even to those texts in Deuteronomy and Zechariah, for anything I have heard to the contrary.
If the Jews ought to put to death a blasphemer, I know no reason but we Christians ought to be as tender of the honor of God as they. I know no difference. Ubi lex non distinguit, non est distinguendum. We find not the law repealed, so it must needs be of force, being perpetual. As to that objection of the Sabbath-breakers to be punished with death under the law, I grant they might have brought other texts to that purpose.
I have read authors, that that law was only to continue while the children of Israel were in the wilderness. Or, admit a man should now, in a presumptuous and willful manner break the Sabbath, if the magistrate should punish him, it may not seem cruel in the eyes of God. If a man should sin against God, who shall plead for him?
It has been said that the Turks and Jews are amongst us, that blaspheme and deny our God and Christ. Must we put them to death? I know no reason but the magistrate should punish them with death, if Turk or Jew come and blaspheme our God: I hope they would not be tolerated. But it is said there is no law now against blasphemy. I grant; but, de facto, there was such a law. I hope none will deny it; I hope the abuse of it, and turning it upon the Lollards, does not take away the law.
Who shall be able to plead, where God has made a law, that this <667> law is repealed? If God should ask me this question, how shall I answer it? If I tell him of that meekness, &c., spoken of in the gospel, will God say where had you a rule to spare his life? I desire that the question may be put for death.
Colonel Kiffen. I am very much satisfied by the whole matter, that this wicked, vile wretch is guilty of whatever you have voted him to be, a horrid blasphemer: but I am not convinced by anything I have heard that he ought to be punished with death. We ought all to be zealous for God; but our zeal must go by a rule.
The honorable person gave the grounds of his opinion under these three heads. The light of nature, law of God, and law of the land. I shall answer them briefly.
1. If the light of nature cannot lead a man out to the knowledge of Christ, are we, by the light of nature, to put such an ignorant person to death, for not knowing what he ought to know?
2. The law of God. Answer: these laws were immediately from the mouth of God, stamped upon, and peculiar to that nation (Deuteronomy 12). If the Jews, by the light of nature, might have charged Christ with blasphemy, surely they would have rather cited that general law, than to say, "We have a law," &c.
That prophecy of Zechariah sticks more with me; but those dark prophecies may be mistaken by not distinguishing of the times. Great mistakes arise from this.
I grant that by the father and mother thrusting the child through, the magistrate is understood; but I hope none will say that the parents are excluded; and if all those circumstances of that law must be pursued, the parents must thrust him through.
I grant the Scriptures are a great light, as that worthy person said, but not the only light, for there must another light concur, else we shall fall short of the knowledge we aim at.
Answer to text, Leviticus 24: Their conclusion differs from their premises; for they say, by that law Nayler ought to die; yet, upon his repentance, he shall be pardoned. I am not of their opinion. If the law be positive, I submit it to their consciences whether they can dispense with that law. If I were so convinced, I ought not to spare, nay, I should not spare! my child, or the wife of my bosom.
The Jews could not find anything in their law whereby they could condemn Christ of blasphemy. He bid them look into their law.
Was not Gamaliel a man learned in their law? It is not to be doubted that he wanted zeal to do it; yet he bade them beware what they did.
Answer to that of John 5, about cutting off the branches. This was the great text made use of in Queen Mary's time. It was those that <668> would suck your blood, greater enemies to you than James Nayler, that put any such interpretation upon it. I hope that gentleman that cited that text will not say that every man that is cut off by excommunication should be thrown into the fire.
Answer to that text in Revelations, a charge against the Church of Thyatira suffering Jezebel and Balaam. It is true, God does highly reprehend them for these things; but does God say, "I have given them time to repent," &c.?
It is true, "God forbid that we should sin because grace doth abound." As for that text of our Savior's pardoning the woman taken in adultery: it is said that he was Lord of all and might dispense with that or any sin, as God did with the Israelites in Egypt. I dare not be of that opinion, that Christ forgave that sin, for this excludes his full satisfaction, &c.
I desire the Question may be put for the smaller punishment.
Mr. Bond. Adjourn this debate till Monday morning.
Mr. Godfrey stood up to speak to the matter; but being cried down by a noise of adjourning so turned it to speak to the orders of the House. Desired them to rise.
The Question put for adjourning the debate till Monday.
The House divided upon this Question.
The Yeas that sat were 108. Lord Eure and Colonel Sydenham [Tellers].
We, the Noes that went out, were 175. Sir John Reynolds and Colonel Fitz-James [Tellers].
Resolved, That this debate be adjourned till Monday morning.
Colonel Edwards was speaking when I came in, about Nayler's business. He had almost done, but concluded that he could not agree to a lesser punishment than the highest.
Mr. Butler. I am fully satisfied that the matter of fact is, in the whole, as it is represented. I was once more inclinable to mercy in this case than now I am. I am fully convinced that, consideratis considerandis, the matter in the lump deserves the highest punishment. The eyes of the whole nation are upon you in this business, and say, Is this the issue of your government and reformation? Nor are you only to take care of this person's punishment, but to suppress the whole growth of that generation, whose principles and practices are diametrically opposite both to magistracy and ministry; such principles as will level the <669> foundation of all government into a bog of confusion.
But to the end unity in this house may be preserved, there being so much division, my motion is that some select persons of both judgments might be appointed to find out an expedient to reconcile both.
Major-General Bridge. I confess this to be a very high offense, yet I am not satisfied that the offender should be put to death. I incline rather to the other question, which I conceive most to agree with the sense of the House, and will more answer your end in the suppressing of that party.
Mr. Pedley. I want words to express this offense, it is so high; but I cannot be satisfied neither from the law of God or man that this offense should be punished with death. By our law books, Britton and Bracton, &c., the writ lies de heretico comburendo, but in this case the first offense is only abjuration.
By the law of God I suppose he is not punishable with death. That law was only positive to the Jewish nation; but, admit this law be moral or perpetual, yet the punishment was but temporary. It being but a circumstance which may esse or adesse sine interitu subjecti, else you must observe the circumstance of stoning and all other circumstances.
As to that argument, that by the law of nature the offense and punishment of blasphemy is directed. It is true, as the Tusculan Question says, all nations, by the law of nature, must acknowledge a Deity. Yet, because the heathens put persons to death for profaning their idols, that is no argument that the law of nature led them to it. No, it was the depravity of their nature, like their causing their children to pass through the fire to Moloch, &c. If the law of nature had dictated that, then Moses would never have asked counsel of God.
On the whole, I am not satisfied. Unless you make a law, for which you have no precedent, you ought not to put him to death. Go as high as can be in another way, and I think that may be more adequate, if not to the offense, yet to the making of him exemplary, and will gain your end as to the discouraging of that party (who haply will adore him as a martyr if you should cut him off by this censure), and falsify his prophecy of himself that he should lay down his life for this thing.
Mr. Godfrey. I shall willingly cast in my vote, to the abundance that has been spoken, with a saving to your time. I must crave leave to differ from that gentleman that spoke last, and all the rest that have spoken against his death, upon these grounds, that neither law of God, nature, nor of the land is of force to punish this offender; and yet they conclude with a punishment. If by none of these, how can the conclusion agree with the premises? Quo Jure shall he be punished at all?
My opinion is, that as this offense is before you, by all the laws aforesaid, it is punishable with death; I say, by the law of the land also <670> as to the sense and declaration of it.
To clear objections by way of premise. The arguments are either drawn from some defects in the moral, judicial, or ceremonial law, or rather from that which is mixed of the moral and ceremonial, or mixed of them all.
As to the observation of the Sabbath, which was either moral per law of nature, or positivum to the Jews, so it was morale positivum, and it was also ceremoniale as to the Jews. It has been much pressed that if we observe a Jewish law, we must observe the ceremonies too. I shall prove it to you, that to punish sabbath-breaking by death was merely local and ceremonial. Exodus 16, and in Numbers, gathering of sticks prohibited, and in another place their not being allowed to stir out of their places. I shall prove that law only to be hic and huc, while the Israelites were in the wilderness. God had given them manna, and they presumed to gather it on the Sabbath. Thence came that interdiction not to stir out of their places, their tents. From the like reason was their kindling of fire prohibited, which was merely local, to show them that their whole preservation and dependency was upon miraculous dispensations; both for their food, raiment, &c.
But when they came into the land of Canaan, they were free from this law.
The institution of the Passover was not intended to be performed by them till they came into the land of Canaan. They had no bread in the wilderness, neither leavened nor unleavened. They had no posts to sprinkle, nor doors, nor neighbors to call in, when they were in the wilderness. They were not tied to their places then neither, for they walked abroad to the temple. Our Savior and his disciples walked in the fields, and plucked the ears of corn too. Nay, our Savior went to dine with a Pharisee on the Lord's day, &c., and allowed works of necessity.
Objection. We must, by this rule, make use of all the judicial law, as the water of jealousy, and so bring in witchcraft.
I grant this to be judicial, but it was partly ceremonial, for here comes priest, and tabernacle, and dust, and all, to the decision of this judgment. So that it is clear to me that the whole ceremonial law is not introduced by this. Though we shall observe that part of the law which is moral or judicial, we need not observe the ceremoniality.
1. That it is morale naturale for a blasphemer to die, as well as moral positivum, I shall prove.
The end of the heathens punishing dishonor to their gods by death. It was to vindicate the honor of their god. But it is said, this was the darkness of their nature. I grant it, primarily, that it was darkness to make a stock or stone their god. But it was clearly from the light of <671> nature that they understood a god was not to be dishonored. How did the heathens know a god by this light? We may make a good conclusion from wrong premises.
Instance: Nebuchadnezzar and his idol god: his conviction, by a divine influence, that none ought to blaspheme the god of Shadrach, &c., and so I take it to be a morale naturale.
2. A moral positive.
Where the reasons of a law are moral, there the law itself is moral. Deuteronomy 13. A person is mentioned, whereunto your case is altogether applicable: a seducer, an impostor, &c. Yours is higher.
There the case is. If a man shall withdraw from God, &c., he shall die the death. "Thou shalt not spare thy wife," &c. Here it may be meant, by objection, that this is not to be done by a judicial manner.
Reasons why this law should reach all nations. 1. "Thou shalt take away iniquity, wherewith the land is defiled." Is there no land but the land of the Jews to be defiled by this iniquity? It is as great a defilement in any nation under heaven where God is worshipped, as to the nation of the Jews; and the same reason why the land should be purged, nor to be punished with less than death, when God says so. The highest sovereignty and majesty has declared how his own excellency should be vindicated. It concerns the Parliament, the nation of England, to take away this guilt.
2. "The Lord your God does prove you," does try you.
Reason: Whether you "love the Lord your God with all your heart." If so, we are under a serious trial and temptation indeed. Has God made this the character, the evidence of one that loves God, whereby he will try him? Are we not now under the same trial? What we will do with this offender, God expects it from us, as we love the Lord our God so to demean ourselves.
3. Reason from the text: "That Israel might hear and fear, and do no more wickedness." If this be the way that God has made to awaken and stir us up from this wickedness, why should our reasons lay in the balance?
These are God's reasons; and our policies ought not to come in competition. This is against one part of the offense, viz., against a seducer, much more against the other part of the offense, the blasphemer.
Objection. But Moses was ignorant of this law of nature, by putting the man in ward.
Answer. God had undertaken to be the Supreme Legislator, as well as to the judicial part, as to the other. Moses did not suspend that it was to be punished with death. His consultation with God was only about the manner. He should be stoned to death. This was not to the <672> moral part, but only to the judicial.
To clear it by an instance in Moses's own practice in another place. They found a man that gathered sticks in that Exod 16. Moses went to consult the manner of his death, which God directed. All the congregation should stone him. It is clear, he knew the kind of punishment, but not the manner, and therefore, and for no other reason, he advised and consulted with God.
Something has been said as to the law of the land. I shall speak in this with all humble submission to all those my learned masters and brethren in the law. Yet I hope nothing I shall offer shall oppose anything they have said in the general; I should rather have been silent. To say that there is no law of the land, as to the manner of punishment, I do agree. But that there is not a law of the land to punish a blasphemer, and now in force, I must differ. I heard none say so, I think. I know no law nor statute which has repealed that law de heretico comburendo. Does not the common law declare the law against blasphemy, when it provides a punishment comburendo. Admit it differed in the hands whereby it was administered. The ecclesiastical power had it from the civil power either by concession or encroachment. It matters not much which, but originally they had it. It is now returned and resumed into its public head whence first it flowed. I hope none will say it does exarescere. I cannot say but the ground and foundation remain. The sense of the common law is known as to the crime. To that it cannot be said to be a law ex post facto. The law you are now to make is but to the modality. 1 Eliz. 1st chapter, 2d chap. indeed is repealed, but by that statute all ecclesiastical power is resumed to the crown, where heresy and its punishment are declared, so certainly blasphemy, which is the top. It is there directed what shall be heresy, relating to the Scriptures, the Four Councils, or a Parliament, or the clergy in their convocation.
A provision is made there how it should be punished, yet it is still in the power of a Parliament to declare the punishment. I could rather advise you to proceed in your judicial way, as has been instanced to you in several cases.
Several arguments have been offered to you against punishment by death. I conceive it is no good argument from that text in Zechariah, that the Jews should be more zealous for God than the Gentiles. (God says, "by a foolish nation I will provoke you," the Jews) to your zeal and jealousy for Christ.
If we expect their conversion, it must not be our impunity, but our zeal that must provoke them. If we would have the prophecy fulfilled, we must do that which is in order to the fulfilling it, provoke them to zeal. It is not expressed in mystical, dark, or obscure terms, but in plain <673> expressions relating to the zeal of the civil magistrates, so zealous, that as to father and mother he shall not spare them. But that objection that it shall be done by their own hands is a clear fallacy. In another place it is said, "Thou shalt kill her, even the wife of thy own bosom," or thy children. It is gross to understand that text otherwise than that thou shalt not conceal or plead for any such relation, under such an offense, not to make themselves executioners. That which is spoken against Eli, for honoring his sons more than God; he was a ruler, and yet spared his sons. That brought not only a judgment upon his family, but upon the whole land. The ark departed. Let not, I beseech you, the tendering of your sons, the sons of Belial, though under your pater patriae.
Your laws have provided against the sons of your nobles per statute 1 Philip and Mary, though repealed, they shall lose their ears and stand in the pillory.
Here is in your question no greater punishment provided for these sons of Belial, than for your own sons.
I beseech you, tender the honor of God in this thing, and divert the judgment from the nation. My motion is for a Bill of Attainder to be brought in, with punishment in it for death, as was first moved.
Colonel Jones, Cons. Adjourn for an hour or two for refreshing yourselves, and resume the debate.
Mr. Speaker. It has been properly offered you, by a worthy alderman, that the proper question is for the higher punishment first. Otherwise you exclude their votes, and so he shall not be punished at all, which I hope none intends, that he shall wholly escape. And I must further keep you to it, that when the other question is put, you must not take liberty to speak to that too. I appeal if the whole matter of the debate has not been equal to both questions.
Mr. Downing. I gave my vote that this offender was guilty of horrid blasphemy, &c., and if it were to give again, I should freely give it; and in my opinion the offender ought to suffer death. But I hear most part of the debate to incline that this offender should not be punished at all, for, they say, it is not against the light of nature, &c. It is as clear to me, that by the light of nature blasphemy against a Deity may be as well discovered as that there is a Deity. The light is the same in the one as in the other. I am not satisfied by anything I have heard, but that the civil magistrate has power as well in matters against the first as the second table. It is said, man need not punish, for there is an eternal judgment coming. By this rule no offense need be punished.
That story of the woman taken in adultery sets forth no punishment at all to be done to her. Christ was not as a magistrate here; they would have had him at that. The like about dividing the inheritance; I <674> have nothing to do in this case amongst you. The like case in the piece of money. He asks no tribute, but appears rather as a servant.
The Jews were come to that height of superstition, by their adoration at the mention of the name of Jehovah, as we were not long since arrived, at the name of Jesus, comprehending the whole veneration of the Deity in that title. Paul was as well a murderer as a blasphemer, but nothing was done to him in either offense.
It is clear to me that this offender deserves death, but that there is any law of the land in force against it, I am altogether unsatisfied, having heard of doctors of the law declare themselves so freely in it.
If there were a law, I wish he had been left to it. True, Nebuchadnezzar, by the light of nature, made a law against blasphemy, and so I hope may you; but he punished none by that law till he had committed the offense.
Another instance very remarkable in Ahasuerus, upon that high disobedience of Vashti, which was the more aggravated in circumstances, it being at so solemn a time, and from and to such a person. Ahasuerus does not say, "Let her die," &c., for such a high offense and affront to my majesty. But what does he do? He advises with his princes and nobles. Said he to the wise men, What shall we do according to law? He goes no further. It is clear that that prophecy in Zechariah relates to the calling in again of Jews only, though it may be analogous to the gospel. But if we had no better promise than that, our advice were dangerous, if you should come to make prophecies the ground of a law: nay, from that to condemn a man without a law. By this means we shall fall into James Nayler's principles, to act by our own light within us. I tremble to make this a rule for our proceedings, a bare dark prophecy. We must condemn every false prophet, everyone that tells a lie.
I grant these penal laws made against blasphemy are in pursuance of the moral law, but how far are these penal laws binding to us?
There is not one commandment in the whole ten that any statute in this land is made in pursuance of it. If so, they ought to be at all times alike moral, and not to be altered.
1. Sabbath-day not punished as the Jews did it.
2. Punishment of disobedience to magistrates and parents.
3. Murder. By the Jewish law, a setting upon one to kill him, though he did not kill him, it was death.
The like concerning smiting a man. That law said, "If a man can but lean upon his staff"; but our law is more penal, for it is murder if he die within such a time.
4. Theft—punished by them with restitution; it is death.
5. Adultery. Till of late not punished with death, and that death <675> different. All divines, as well Protestant and Papist and others agree, viz., Perkins and others, that it is only in the power of the civil magistrate to vary the punishment according to the necessity. Else, what is left to them? How can they meet with the increase or decrease of a crime?
The Jews themselves, to come nearer, have varied in this. Solomon said, "He that steals for hunger shall not be regarded, yet he shall restore sevenfold." Here is a higher punishment than, at the first institution, upon the highest theft. David goes higher for theft, in the case of the ewe lamb, so that circumstances might aggravate such an offense to death. This is left as a record of David's justice. They have varied in the case of sabbath-breaking, for they allowed a sabbath-day's journey. He that gathered sticks was put to death; and in another place (Exodus 16:27), none were put to death for going forth to gather manna, which was a more general offense. The omission of circumcision was punished with death; but in the 5th of Joshua we find it dispensed with, because of the general neglect.
The like, in cases of adultery, have varied. The like, in cases of idolatry, have varied. All nations, all ages, have varied the punishment of such offenses according to the conveniency of times and seasons.
Know we not that this is the issue of our great liberty? Have not Rantism and other extravagant opinions been all this while dispensed withal? There are thousands of this man's opinion, and must we take them all off by a law, or this person for them all, by a law ex post facto? It will not do your end. I am not satisfied that he should be put to death for this offense, but shall agree with the smaller punishment.
Colonel Sydenham, Sir John Reynolds, and Lord Jones. Put one question or other, that for your honor abroad you may put an end to it.
Two Justices of Peace could have ended it, and yet it has asked you all this time. For your honor without I would not have you defer it. The House is full enough to put the Question. You have great business upon you.
Major-General Skippon, Colonel Mathews, Mr. Nathaniel Bacon, and Mr. Bedford. Adjourn for a while, or till tomorrow, that the House may be full, before you pass a vote of this nature.
Major-General Desborough. If it were proper to restrain all from speaking any more on this business, I could wish it. I would have you adjourn till 11 o'clock, that, in a full House, this great vote may pass without further debate. I have observed nothing but repetitions five days together.
Captain Hatsel. We have had a very serious and Christian debate; yet many have a mind yet to speak to it. I would have none surprised in it. About half an hour since, it was moved to adjourn. Let us not <676> take any advantage. For my part, I am for the lesser punishment. I desire you would adjourn till the afternoon.
Mr. Bond. You cannot deny any man to speak to it, so you cannot be ripe for the Question yet. I never knew any success of night or afternoon meetings, so I am not for adjourning till the afternoon, but till tomorrow morning.
Major-General Kelsey. Adjourn till tomorrow, and sit night and day till you come to a Question, and not leave it till you have done.
Mr. Margetts. Here is a gentleman behind me that says he has a speech of two hours to make, so that you cannot be near a Question. I desire you will adjourn.
Mr. Bampfield. You will spoil your Grand Committee for religion if you adjourn till the afternoon. They have not sat these four days.
Major-General Boteler, Colonel Rouse, and Major-General Packer. Adjourn for an hour. It has been firsted and seconded, &c. Let that be your Question.
Sir William Strickland. I could very freely put this upon God's Providence for a Question, at this time, but that the sense of the House is against it; so I desire it may be adjourned till tomorrow.
Mr. Reynell. Adjourn till tomorrow morning.
Lord Lambert. The House will be emptier in the afternoon. Unless you send every man word, how shall they know?
Mr. Berkeley. I desire to second that motion.
Colonel Cromwell. This noble Lord looks upon what is before, but not upon those that are behind (viz., in the gallery), so, from that reason, of the thinness of the House he cannot judge.
Mr. Highland. It was even now said the House was too thin to pass a vote, and now it is said to be full enough. I desire you would adjourn till tomorrow morning.
The Speaker was putting the Question to adjourn for an hour, but was cried down into the other Question, so
Resolved, That this debate be adjourned till tomorrow morning.
Mr. Reynell. This blasphemy of James Nayler wounds Christ through every side, as well in assuming the worship of Christ, as his very breath. "The voice is Christ's," said he.
He ran over all the texts formerly urged in this case, pretended to great skill in the original, and would prove it, that, under the gospel, a blasphemer and an impostor ought to be put to death. He said, Paul <677> in the Acts declared, "If I have done anything worthy of death, let me then die."
There the apostle grants their allegation. "If I have done anything against the law," &c.; some footsteps whereby we may guess that the laws in the Old Testament are moral. Where the reasons are eternal, there the laws are eternal.
If a man rise up presumptuously to slay a man, he shall die the death, was offered as one argument why the magistrate may commute the punishment. It is rather to be interpreted and slay, instead of to slay.
He cited Calvin, Rutherford, and Cotton about the punishment of corporal fornication, and spiritual idolatry. If leave might be given, in other cases, to commute the punishment, not in this case. Otherwise the punishment would be too light. Said something of Gallio.
If you should punish this man with corporal punishment, in a short time it will come to nothing. If you cut off his hand, or restrain him of pen and ink, we have found, by experience, that such have found means to trouble you. He inclined to the highest punishment, but none could guess by his argument.
Mr. Waller. I have an equal abhorrency to Nayler and his party, as any man here; but I cannot agree to the punishment with death. Much has been spoken which needed not have been, and something omitted that should have been spoken. From generals you cannot conclude particulars. Your argument runs thus. Some blasphemy ought to be punished with death, but Nayler has committed blasphemy, ergo. Now I shall prove that Nayler has not committed such a blasphemy as ought to be punished with death.
No positive inference can be drawn from Nayler's confession, as to his assuming the attributes of Christ, but rather a positive denial of these assumings. The proof is all along dubious.
He hath not said that he is Christ, but only a sign. Now the sign is another thing than the thing signified. He says not that Christ dwells wholly, or personally, in him.
As to that of the woman's kissing his feet, and the like, this is but a civil posture to our superiors.
That of assuming divine adoration. He does no such thing. He said not that Christ was in him more than he was in others.
(He said a great deal more to extenuate the crime, but I minded it not.)
Non-practice of the law takes not away the law, yet we are not now under the same dispensations. Christ did not direct his disciples to be all Nimrods, but to be "fishers of men." Christ said, "all blasphemy shall be forgiven," &c.
<678> Without the spirit concurring with the light of the Scriptures, we may wander into as erroneous opinions by that light as did the heathens by the light of nature, without the Scriptures. Do you pass this sentence upon him to reclaim himself, or to reclaim others? If to reclaim him, you cannot after death; if before death, it will be said it is but the terror of that which frights him. Instead of reclaiming others, you will confirm and pervert them. The ways of truth are slippery. Angels have fallen. Perfect men have fallen. This man does not challenge to be either of them. There is but an inch of ground to go upon between error on each side. I shall say nothing as to the law you have to punish this person; yet, certainly, if you condemn him by a law unknown, you do unjustly. I desire you would come to some Question.
Colonel White. There has been enough said in this business. I desire you would put some Question or other, and the most proper is, whether the Question for the higher punishment should be put or no.
Question. Whether that Question shall be put or no.
We, the Yeas that stayed in, were 82. Alderman Foot and Sir Christopher Pack [Tellers].
The Noes that went out were 96. Colonel Berkeley and Mr. Lawrence [Tellers].
Mr. Downing called me to go out, but consc.
The question for the lesser punishment being read.
Colonel White proposed that his tongue might be bored through.
Colonel Barclay, that his hair might be cut off.
Major-General Haines, that his tongue might be slit or bored through, and that he might be stigmatized with the letter B.
Colonel Coker, that his hair might be cut off.
Sir Thomas Wroth. Slit his tongue, or bore it, and brand him with the letter B.
Major-General Whalley. Do not cut off his hair; that will make the people believe that the Parliament of England are of opinion that our Savior Christ wore his hair so, and this will make all people in love with the fashion.
Sir Gilbert Pickering. His hard labor and imprisonment will be sufficient. I have, within these two days, talked with a very sober man of that sect, who tells me Nayler is not to be heeded in what he said, for he is bewitched, really bewitched; and keeping him from company, especially from that party that bewitched him, your imprisonment will do. If your vote be not passed about his hair being cut off, I am for that.
Major-General Skippon. Seeing you are off the other question (wherein I fear we have offended God), make the other punishment as high as you can. I doubt cutting off his hair will be but too private a <679> punishment. It is offered you, instead of pillory, to slit his tongue, and that upon a scaffold upon the Exchange, in as public a manner as can be, and that the rest of his punishment may be done at Bristol.
Major-General Desborough. I doubt if you slit his tongue, you may endanger his life. It will be a death of a secret nature.
Mr. Downing. You ought to do something with that tongue that has bored through God. You ought to bore his tongue through. You punish a swearer so, and have some whipped through an affront to your members, in the case of Noble.
Colonel Kiffen proposed that the boring his tongue through might be suspended till he come to Bristol.
Lord President. I am against putting this into your question. You had better take his life; that tongue may afterwards praise the Lord. I was ever against that punishment.
Colonel Holland. You have done what becomes magistrates. Now I would have you do like Christians, and not to be too severe.
Dr. Clarges. Boring through the tongue is a mutilation of members. It was said by most that were not satisfied in his death, that they would go as high as you please. Whipping, in law, is a mutilation.
Mr. Robinson. I remember no such thing granted, to go to so high a punishment; I understand not the grammar that whipping is a mutilation.
Major Audley. It is an ordinary punishment for swearing, I have known twenty bored through the tongue.
Resolved, that his tongue be bored through.
Resolved, that he be marked with the letter B, in the forehead.
Major-General Whalley proposed that his lips might be slitted.
Alderman Foot, that his head may be in the pillory, and that he be whipped from Westminster to the Old Exchange.
Resolved, that instead of the word "Cheapside," be added "Old Exchange."
Colonel Cromwell, that he may be whipped through the whole city from Westminster to Aldgate.
Major-General Goffe, that he may also be restrained from society of women, as well as from men. Only some to come to him for necessaries.
Colonel Mathews, that he may be branded and bored at the Old Exchange.
Dr. Clarges, that he may stand in the pillory in Glastonbury and Wells.
Colonel Shapcot, that his Bridewell may be at York, whence he came.
Mr. Speaker and Sir William Strickland. He came not thence. I shall put it upon Bristol.
<680> Mr. Pedley and Colonel Purefoy proposed that his prison might be the Isle of Scilly.
Colonel Clarke. If you put him to hard labor, indeed Bridewell, London, is the fittest place. A gentleman in my eye will inspect it.
Mr. Bond. Do what you can, resort for monies will be had to him. Send him rather into the Orkneys, or Scotland, or other remote parts.
Major-General Desborough and Alderman Foot. London is the fittest place.
Sir Gilbert Pickering. Either be strict in this, or you do nothing, for certainly this of Quakerism is as infectious as the plague. And that not only men, but women be kept from him. I have told you, it is a woman that has done all the mischief.
Mr. Puller proposed that he might be sent to Jamaica.
Sir Thomas Wroth, to the Isle of Dogs.
Sir John Reynolds. It is most dangerous to send him to Bristol, lest he disturb the peace of that town. Put it rather upon Scilly or Coventry.
Sir William Strickland. London is as liable to tumult as any place. I desire, rather, that he might be sent to Bristol.
Mr. Highland. Those that come out of the North are the greatest pests of the nation. The diggers came thence.
Mr. Robinson. I hope that gentleman does not mean by his pests, all that come thence. He means not us, I hope. The origin of the diggers was from London, a Blackwell-hall-man thief.
Lord Strickland. I rather think these pests have come from Surrey, for there was the first rise of the diggers.
Mr. Bampfield. I am glad everybody apprehends this man to be such an one as that all are weary of him. He came from the North. It verifies the proverb ab aquilone nil boni. I hope it will be a warning to them never to send us such cattle amongst us.
Mr. Attorney-General. Send him to some country-town. In a public place it will breed tumult, if you keep him in a city.
Mr. 5. I am sorry to hear such reflections upon the North. I would have this fellow sent rather to Southwark, where there is a prison, i.e., the Marshalsea, to which we all contribute.
Major-General Boteler and Colonel Whetham. The proper place is where they most abound. There they may best be punished. If at Bristol, then at Bristol.
Resolved, that London be the place.
Per Major Boteler and Colonel Mathews. That he might have no <681> relief but what he earns.
Colonel Rouse. This is the most material part of your question. Many of them live better in prison than otherwise.
Mr. Bampfield. John Lilburne had forty shillings per week, which, I believe, is more than ever he had before. This fellow's condition will be better than before, unless you restrain all relief to him, more than he earns with his hard labor. You will hardly keep him so private here.
Mr. Speaker. You may remember a case in Parliament of one John James, for striking a member, one Mr. Howard, in the hall with a dagger (some thought he was killed): the House ordered his hand to be cut off, but this was to be done by Bill, and I think you must, in this case, take that course.
Dr. Clarges. I am against the troubling ourselves with a Bill in this case. I think it is altogether needless. Your judicial power will extend further than to such a vote as this, without the help of your legislative. You remember what you did this morning against Noble, in a lesser matter, and what you did not long since in a worthy gentleman's case, a member of this House, against a fellow that exhibited articles against him. I may name the person, I think he is not here, Mr. B., how you committed that fellow, and it was debated about the whipping, where a noble lord said whipping was a mutilation.
Mr. Downing and Mr. Bampfield. I am more afraid of a Bill than anything else. You have done greater matters by your judicial power. Boring the tongue through is often done by less judicatures.
Colonel Shapcot and Sir William Strickland. An order of this House will be as much as a Bill. Your warrant to the sheriff will show your judgment; but I desire the imprisonment may be perpetual. It is a civil death.
Colonel Jones. It were good, before you agree of the time, you would proceed upon the legislative or judicial power.
Sir William Strickland. I am against a Bill. If Lord Strafford's case were to be acted over again, we should not proceed by a Bill, but in a judicial way. The Parliament then might question whether the House of Lords would consent, and so a Bill was requisite; but in this case it is otherwise. We are another jurisdiction now, a judicial court. If we lose this privilege, if we own it not now, we shall have much ado to resume, to regain it. I desire you would trouble yourselves no further in this business. If you talk of a Bill, it will all come to nothing.
Resolved: that James Nayler be set on the pillory, with his head in the pillory, in the New Palace Westminster, during the space of two hours, on Thursday next, and be whipped by the hangman through the streets of Westminster to the Old Exchange, London; and there, likewise, <682> to be set upon the pillory, with his head in the pillory, for the space of two hours, between the hours of eleven and one, on Saturday next; in each of the said places wearing a paper containing an inscription of his crimes: and that at the Old Exchange, his tongue shall be bored through with a hot iron, and that he be there also stigmatized in the forehead with the letter B; and that he be, afterwards, sent to Bristol and conveyed into and through the said city, on a horse bare ridged, with his face back, and there also publicly whipped, the next market-day after he comes thither; and that from thence he be committed to prison in Bridewell, London, and there restrained from the society of all people, and kept to hard labor till he be released by the Parliament; and during that time, be debarred of the use of pen, ink, and paper, and have no relief but what he earns by his daily labor.
Resolved, that the said James Nayler be brought to the bar tomorrow, at ten of the clock, to receive his judgment.
Resolved, that the Speaker be authorized to issue his warrants to the sheriffs of London and Middlesex, the Sheriff of Bristol, and the Governor of Bridewell, London, to see his judgment put in execution respectively in the several places.
Resolved, that the Speaker be authorized to make a warrant to the Sheriffs of London and Middlesex, to convey the said Nayler to Bristol.
Resolved, that Mr. Speaker do issue out the like warrant to the Sheriffs of Bristol to convey him up to London, after the execution of this judgment.
Resolved, that tomorrow, after the sentence pronounced against James Nayler, the several Petitions now offered be read.
Resolved, that the House do likewise then take into consideration the persons brought up with James Nayler.
Mr. Speaker. It cost us 26 pounds to bring them up, and I hope we shall be at no more charge with them.
Colonel Shapcot. To the order of the day, viz. Nayler's business.
Mr. Speaker. What shall I say to him? Shall I ask him any questions? or, if he speak, what shall I answer? Shall I barely pronounce the sentence, and make no preamble to it? I can do nothing but by your directions. I pray you inform me.
Lord Chief Justice. It hath been the usual practice for a man that is committed only by vote or order of Parliament, to be discharged by habeas corpus, when the Parliament is dissolved, unless you proceed upon the judicial way, to judgment as a court of judicature. I only <683> stand up to inform you.
Mr. Bond. In the case of Biddle, who was committed last Parliament, Lord Rolle would have bailed him. I wished him not. He said he was bound by his oath to do it, because it was only an order and not a judgment. I desire you would enter it as a judgment, otherwise the Lord Chief Justice must discharge him by habeas corpus.
Colonel Shapcot. This case is new, and it will remain as a precedent. This noble lord was not at the debate; but I think what you have done is as by a court of judicature, and it is a judgment in itself.
Major Aston. It is true what that lord says. A habeas corpus will release him when the Parliament is dissolved. I would have you put it to the vote, whether it shall be judgment or no.
The Master of the Rolls. It is truly offered to you, that a habeas corpus lies in this case; as well offered in the case of Biddle, which was a higher blasphemy than this. I would have you add to your votes, upon the whole matter, that the Parliament doth adjudge this sentence, and so you tie up the hands of the inferior courts. It is a business of a very high consequence.
Lord Whitlock. I agree with what is offered to you, and the word adjudged must be in your entry. Otherwise, the inferior courts will, and must, release him by habeas corpus. You may enter it thus: Whereas James Nayler is guilty of such and such things, the Parliament do adjudge that he shall suffer thus and thus.
Mr. Robinson. I could willingly have gone less than the punishment, as to boring and branding, but I cannot part with anything of the privilege of Parliament. I am sorry to hear that an inferior court should think to question anything which Parliament does, after such a serious debate. It has been eleven days, and shall an inferior court dissolve our judgment? If I should live to sit in the next Parliament, I should make that judicature exemplary, that should offer to frustrate what we have done.
I think the judgment is good already; and I believe none will offer to alter it. That of Biddle's case was different. We heard and determined this business, we did not so in the other case.
Sir Thomas Wroth. I understand the judges are sworn to do according to the law, and if they grant not a habeas corpus in this case, they are perjured.
Lord Strickland. I differ from my worthy countryman. The judges are judges of your laws, and we are beholden to them for their admonition. They ought to be encouraged for this. If they desire to do their duty, we ought not to discourage them. I would have us to make no more of resolutions and votes than they are. Let us put a difference between Acts of Parliament, and votes and resolves. I hope it is not <684> intended that every motion in Parliament should be of equal authority with a law, that nobody should speak against it.
Mr. Fowell. Some learned persons in the law should withdraw to pen the judgment, because it is to be a precedent for after ages.
Mr. Bampfield and Colonel Chadwick proposed to add the words adjudged, either before or after the vote.
Resolved, that these words be added to the former vote, and the Parliament hath adjudged the same accordingly.
Major-General Skippon. I would not have us contend about words and spend eleven days more about the business. I desire the word adjudged may be added.
Sir William Strickland. In such a solemn matter, it is very fit there should be some introduction to the sentence, which may be left to your own discretion.
Lord Claypole, Mr. Highland, and Major-General Goffe. He may be first asked if he have any more to say why sentence should not pass upon him.
Major Audley. In all the courts that ever I was in, it was always allowed to the delinquent to say what he has further to say. He never yet knew that he was to answer either for life or member. In cases of manslaughter it is allowed. And admit he should offer anything to his recantation or retraction. I hope nobody here but desires his reformation, rather than otherwise to punish him.
Lord Chief Justice. If you proceed as a judicatory (as it seems you have implicitly voted it), you must ask him what he can say why judgment ought not to be passed against him. It is so in all courts of judicature. Admit him, or the devil within him should say by what authority do you pass this judgment? What can you say then? Though you have the authority of the House of Lords united to you, yet they would never proceed in a judicial way, but according to the law. I never knew them do otherwise. This is a new case before you, and it will be a precedent.
Colonel Chadwick. It is usual in all courts to ask the prisoner or delinquent what he can say why judgment ought not to be passed against him.
Major-General Kelsey. This court, nor any court but must mix mercy with judgment. It may be he may recant. None can tell what God in this time has wrought upon him. This is a new business. He has never been yet heard what he can say to it, why judgment should not be pronounced against him. You have no law for what you do.
Major-General Boteler. If it had been in the case of death, I confess I should have given him all the liberty that might be to speak for himself. But in the lesser punishment, you need not put an excuse <685> in his mouth.
Lord Strickland. We shall be stricter than the Papists, who desire us but to renounce and we shall be pardoned. I would have us incline to mercy.
Lord Whitlock. The clerk, upon the prisoner's coming to the bar, should read the judgment, and then you ask him what he has to say for himself, &c. If he say anything, he may withdraw, and then debate it. I remember it usual, where life is concerned in the sentence, to ask the party what he has to say, but not in lesser cases.
Mr. Nathaniel Bacon. You should consider how it stands with the honor of God, or of this House, to retract your judgment, though this man should say he repents. Have you not passed your judgment already? Remember how you sent a man yesterday to Bridewell, and never called him in to ask him what he would say.
Mr. Bodurda. I shall second that motion that he may be asked what he has to say. I have known that practice in all courts, not only in capital, but criminal cases.
Major-General Skippon. Either your judgment is good or it is bad. If bad, why do you not recall it? I think it is good, and it had been better if it had been higher. But I hope you will not release all the corporal punishment upon his saying he repents. You will put an excuse in his mouth. Leave it to him to say what he pleases.
Colonel Hewitson. I desire it may be asked him what he has to say. This has been seconded and thirded.
Mr. Bampfield. Sixty have spoken in this business already; and by that time sixty more have spoke, you will spend time enough in it. I wonder to see such inclination to spare this person, as though his crime were so small that it may wholly go unpunished, if he say but he recants. If you bring him in, and he should show obstinacy, which he may do as soon as recantation, then surely the same reason and equity will lie for those that move to aggravate his punishment upon the obstinacy, as others will move to extenuate upon recantation.
Mr. Downing. You have intricated yourselves into another debate. I desire you to put the question, whether the question offered should be put or no.
Mr. Bond and Sir Thomas Wroth. He ought to be asked what he has to say. I am of that lord's opinion, of the long robe, that he must be heard what he will say.
Colonel Shapcot stood up to speak, but was cried down, and a great debate whether he should speak or no, and was going to the question till Mr. Goodwin took it up.
Mr. Speaker said it was not proper for a man to press to speak <686> (after another had stood up and said he had spoke) till the Speaker call him up; and it was also a great breach of privilege to call any man up to speak, unless he shall first stand up of himself to speak.
Mr. Goodwin. It is very unparliamentary to ask the prisoner any question. It may be, he will deny your judicature, or that you have a law, and where is your judgment then? But this will but draw a further trouble upon you. Your judgment is passed already. You are only, now, to pronounce the judgment. If I could be satisfied that he would recant, I should willingly admit him to speak all he can.
Colonel Holland. To ask him questions is very parliamentary and usual in such cases, in lesser offenses than this, as in Sir John Stowell's case, and many other cases.
Major Aston. If once you admit him to speak, you must hear him all that ever he will say, and so hold you de die in diem. Have you not heard him already? Do not the sessions of the peace pass their sentence upon indictments without hearing the party speak? Did you not so in Mr. Burton's case? I may name him; he is not here. I am not for hearing him any more.
Major-General Packer. I hope you will give this person the liberty of an Englishman to speak for himself. Haply he will not trouble you with much. I doubt he will not recant; but I would not have you shut out repentance. Hear what he will say, and then you justify yourselves both from what he shall say against your judgment, or what others shall say that you make more haste than good speed. It will be more pleasing to God, and justifiable before men.
Judge-Advocate Whalley stood up to speak to the orders of the House, and then fell into the merit of the business, but Mr. Downing took him down; yet, Major-General Whalley moved him up again.
Judge-Advocate Whalley. I hope, if this person should come and recant, you would accept it, more than all your judgments upon him; and it will answer more your ends. His reformation, I suppose, is the end of punishment. If you be satisfied in that, you need not sentence him. I desire he may be heard.
The question put, whether the question for asking him any question or no should be put, and the House divided upon it.
We that were for the question, the yeas, were 85. Sir Charles Wolseley and Colonel Philip Jones [Tellers].
They that were against and went out, the noes, were 107. Colonel Throckmorton and Colonel FitzJames [Tellers].
Resolved, That this question shall be put.
James Nayler called to the bar.
Mr. Speaker. Now ten or eleven days have been spent in the <687> debating your crimes, which are heinous. You have troubled the countries up and down, and now you have troubled the Parliament. Yet, in your sentence, mercy is mixed with judgment. It is a sentence, not of death. They desire your reformation rather than destruction.
Nayler offered two or three times to speak, and to say he desired to know what his crimes were. He knew none. But the Speaker proceeded to pronounce the sentence, and Nayler said, as he went out—God has given me a body; I shall willingly endure it; or, I hope I shall endure it; or, that God will, I hope, give me a spirit to endure it. I did not well hear: and said further, The Lord lay not these things to your charge. I shall pray heartily that he may not; or, I shall pray for you.c
Sir John Reynolds and others said afterwards, it was hard he should not be heard out, and he doubted some were afraid that he should recant. He doubted that was not so charitable.
Mr. Bond and Mr. Bampfield. Rid your hands of them all, for they lie at your charge, and send the women into their own counties to be kept to work; and let the petition against the Quakers be read, and the whole business over.
Resolved, that the petitions be read, and the rest of the prisoners dispatched tomorrow morning, and nothing to intervene.
Sir William Roberts and Sir Thomas Wroth. Explain your order, whether Nayler shall be whipped this day or on Saturday. The order read.
Major-General Whalley. If he is set in the pillory, immediately after his whipping, it will go near to kill him.
Resolved, that the whipping of James Nayler, from Westminster to the Old Exchange, is to be on this day.
Alderman Tigh. I have received a letter from Dublin, desiring me to represent unto you the growing of the Quakers there.
Colonel Coker said he had a letter to the same purpose from Dorset.
Mr. Westlake had another letter from Exeter.
Alderman Foot proposed that all these petitions might be referred to the same Committee, for they increase in other places, and ought to be taken a speedy course with.
Lord Chief-Justice Glynn. It is high time to take a course with them. They daily disturb our courts of justice; several indictments against them; <688> their persons and pamphlets daily pestering of us. I was, in my private opinion, against punishing old offenses with a new punishment, and am also for tender consciences. But those that openly profess against the ministers and ordinances and magistracy too, it is fit they should be taken a course withal; for they grow to a great number. There was a bill in last Parliament against them; I desire that may be confided, with all those petitions, to a Committee, to provide a law against them.
Sir William Strickland. I am sorry to see such a thin House upon this occasion. They are a growing evil, and the greatest that ever was. Their way is a plausible way; all levellers against magistracy and property. They say the Scriptures are but ink and paper. They are guided by a higher light. They deny all ordinances, as marriage, &c.
Sir Thomas Wroth. They are a very numerous party, and ought to be taken a course withal speedily. I desire you would refer it to the same Committee, that your time may not be further spent in this business.
Mr. Fowell. It is high time to take a course with them. They deny all ministry and magistracy to be the word of God, &c.; affront all authority, and increase daily.
Mr. Bedford. I had a report in my hand last Parliament, and stood up to report it; these are the heads of it, that it is high time to take a course with them.
Major-General Whalley. It is a hard thing to make a law against them. Some do acknowledge scripture, magistracy, and ministry; others, not. Good ministers is the only remedy to suppress them: only make a law against blasphemy, and let them that commit James Nayler's fault, have his punishment. But for their denying of the magistracy and ministry, you have laws against them already. Bind them to their good behavior.
Lord Whitlock. If there be any such people as deny magistracy and ministry, we may easily guess the consequence. Cutting of throats must necessarily follow. That which I do most except against, is the disturbance of the public peace of the nation. I am much against the general words "blasphemy" and "Quakerism." This is like the word "encumbrance," the more general, the more dangerous for the people of England. I would have it referred to a Committee to bring in, by a particular law, what persons shall be punished, but not to leave it in the general.
Major-General Skippon. We are all full of the sense of the evils spread all the land over, and our indulgency to them may make God to cause them to become disturbers of our peace.
I am for tender consciences, as much as any man; but it is one thing to hold an opinion, another thing to hold forth an opinion. If a man be a Turk or a Jew, I care not so he do not openly hold it forth.
<689> I am for enumeration of their blasphemies, for I would not have any honest man surprised by a general law. I would have Biddle and his sect also considered by the same Committee, which are also dangerous, as well as Quakers.
Mr. Briscoe. I have no petition from the county for which I serve, but I am sure I have as much occasion to complain as any, for they are numerous in those parts, and principally occasioned by the ignorance of these people in the principles of religion. They meet in multitudes, and upon moors, in terrorem populi. I have a long time feared that they and the people of a contrary judgment should fall by the ears together. I desire it may be referred to the Committee.
Mr. Puller proposed that the ordinances against blasphemy might be inspected by the same Committee, and that a law might be brought in against blasphemy.
Major-General Boteler. They are most their friends that labor to suppress and prevent that wickedness. I hope we shall never have cause for the like debate; which would be prevented if there were a law now made. It is one thing to pass a sentence upon a man without a law, another thing to make a law. I desire a Bill may be brought in.
Mr. Godfrey. Unless you provide a law against them, in general, it was to little purpose to punish this man. The sect is dangerous, the increase numerous, prevention very necessary. I desire it may be referred to the same Committee to bring in a Bill against them.
Major Brooke. I desire you would spend some time in making a law against these, else all the laws you make here will be to no purpose. They will overturn all laws and Government, unless you timeouslyd strengthen the banks. They meet in thousands in our country, and certainly will overrun all, both ministers and magistrates. I desire that you would make no delay in this business. Ere long, it will be too late to make a law.
Sir. Christopher Pack. Though you have no petition from London, yet we are no less infested with them than other parts of the nation. They knew you were about making a law against them, but I desire that it may be referred to a Committee, and it will appear our grievances are as great as any.
Mr. Butler. In pity to these people's souls, I desire there may be a law against them. Lenity may work upon some, and severity upon others. They have been reclaimed from disturbing of ministry, and haply, by fair means, other works may be done.
Mr. Robinson. I am against referring it to a Committee to bring <690> in a law against them, under the name of Quakers. Some may be called Quakers that are not so. It is an offense, indeed, to keep on their hats before the magistrate; for, lay aside magistracy, and expect confusion. I would have the petition considered by the same Committee, and see how far the offenses extend to the disturbance of the peace.
It is the magistrate's interest to have an influence upon all factions, and not drive the Government into one faction, whilst they hold nothing out to the disturbance of the peace. Under the general notion, you may bring all, nay any man, to be tried by this law. As to the superintendency of the Church, if the supreme magistrate should assert Arianism, he must be tried by this law. I would first have the petitions considered, and the substance and heads reported, and then a Bill to be brought in.
Major-General Kelsey seconded that motion; and that, under the general word Quakers, it might not be referred to a Committee to provide a law, but first to report the heads and substance of the petitions, and their opinions in it.
Captain Baynes. I have not heard so many petitions read together, and not committed in order. I am against referring it to a Committee in general terms. But let it be enumerated in the Bill, the offenses particularly, that a man may certainly know how he transgresses the law, and when he is free.
Colonel Sydenham. I am as much against the Quakers as any man, but would not bring in a law against Quakers by a general word. It is a word that signifies nothing, individuum vagum nearly. It is like the word Lollards or Puritans, under the notion whereof, many godly persons are now under the altar, their blood being poured out. It is of dangerous consequence to make a law under general terms, and leave it to after ages to interpret your meaning. Let it be plainly explained what the offenses shall be. But your proper way now is to refer the petitions to a Committee, who may take out the heads of them, and represent their sense to you, and then you may make a law as you see occasion.
Mr. Bond. If men boggle at the word Quaker, leave it out. If we had had a law against them, we should not have troubled ourselves with this fellow. They are a generation that begin to lisp already. It will make men wear their swords. I desire the Question may be put.
Lord Strickland. You will not find in all your statute-books a definition of Quaker or Blasphemy. Other states never do it, further than as disturbers of the peace. We know how laws against Papists were turned upon the honestest men. We may all, in after ages, be called Quakers. It is a word nobody understands. I would have it left to your Committee to consider of the heads of the petitions, and represent them to you, and then you may make a law against them. <691> But we all know how the edge of former laws against Papists has been turned upon the best Protestants, the truest professors of religion, the honest Puritan, as they called him, a good profession, but hard to be understood, as this word Quaker will be in after ages.
Resolved, that the petitions be referred to Nayler's Committee, who are to consider of the same, and report the heads to the House, fittest for a Bill, and to suppress the mischief.
A great debate whether it should be referred to Nayler's Committee, or to a new Committee. Mr. Robinson offered to name a Committee before the Speaker had said, "Gentlemen, name your Committee"; but Mr. Speaker said it was improper.
Resolved, at last, that it be referred to Nayler's Committee.
Mr. Bampfield and Mr. Bond. Make an order to send the three women and the man to the House of Correction for three months, and rid your hands of them. They lie at your charge.
Lord Strickland knew Dorcas Erbury to be an honest minister's daughter in Wales. He would not have them sent to the House of Correction till their crime be examined.
Mr. Godfrey. It is neither just nor honorable for a Parliament to condemn one for his own confession, in giving testimony against another. You ought not to build any judgment or sentence upon what they confessed there; but now examine, as against them.
Mr. Robinson. That way of proceeding against a witness was never known but in Lord 6 case, where his footman bore witness against him, by which testimony he died for the crime, and afterwards they hanged up the footman for what he had confessed against himself.
Colonel Sydenham. I cannot but wonder to see the strange temper of the House in this business; how zealous they were for that high sentence against Nayler, though there was no law at all for it, and never quiet till it was done; and now, how different. A punishment far lesser would content them against these women; who, in my opinion, were greater offenders than Nayler, inasmuch as they actually committed idolatry. He denied all honor to himself. For my part, I am altogether unsatisfied by what law you do this. I doubt you have opened a gap to prostitute both life, member, and liberty, to the arbitrary power of men, who by a vote may do what they will.
Divers others spoke to this purpose, to prevent present doom.
Resolved, that the examination of the crimes of these women be referred to the same Committee to propound the punishment.
1. Here the MS. is unintelligible.
2. "The Instrument of Government," promulgated December 16th, 1653. It contained the following articles...
"37. That such as profess faith in God by Jesus Christ (though differing in judgment from the doctrine, worship or discipline publicly held forth) shall not be restrained from, but shall be protected in the profession of the faith and exercise of their religion; so as they abuse not this liberty to the civil injury of others, and to the actual disturbance of the public peace on their parts. Provided this liberty be not extended to Popery, nor Prelacy, nor to such as under the profession of Christ hold forth and practice licentiousness.
"38. That all laws, statutes, and ordinances, and clauses in any law, statute and ordinance to the contrary of the aforesaid liberty, shall be esteemed as null and void."
3. Blank in MS.
4. Blank in MS.
5. Blank in MS.
6. Blank in MS.
a. Thomas Burton's Diary is by far the most complete source of information on the trial of James Nayler before Parliament, and I have therefore included everything in it that pertains to Nayler. (Three dots are inserted where I omit material not related to the Nayler case.) Since it reads like a transcript one should remember that it is not a true verbatim transcript: Burton took rapid notes, omitting some material and possibly making errors in recording what he did include. His bias is anti-Nayler. John Rutt, the 19th-century editor who undertook the job of deciphering Burton's handwriting, also indicates that his text may contain transcription errors.
timeously = early enough.I have omitted most of the editor's footnotes.
b. John Desborough, military commander for the Cornwall region, and Cromwell's brother-in-law. It was he whose wife Martha Simmonds had nursed, and who had apparently arranged for Nayler's release from Exeter jail.
c. Robert Rich gives a slightly different account of what Nayler said (see p. 744 below).
d. timeously = early enough.