Diary of Thomas Burton Esq: Volume 1, July 1653 - April 1657. Originally published by H Colburn, London, 1828.
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Saturday, December 13, 1656.
A Bill for the better ordering and governing the makers and workers of broad mixed woollen cloths, within the Westriding of the County of York, and for making them a body politic and corporate, was this day read the first time.
This is a mere monopoly, which will not only destroy the wool grower, but the poor clothier; for it seems that none shall buy or sell any wool but such as are free of this corporation. It will make less manufacture.
Sir Henry Vane brought in a Bill to this purpose, in the Long Parliament, for Kent, but could not get it to pass. One law through the whole nation may serve for the regulation of one manufacture. We have laws strict enough already in these cases, as strict as any, save in the laws of tanners.
Mr. Ashe, the elder. I do very much approve of this Bill, and desire it may have a second reading. I gave you the reason before why our manufactures are almost lost, and snatched into Holland only for want of regulation.
Lord Lambert, who brought in the Bill. I desire it may be read again, and the inconveniences considered. If it be not for general good, I shall not desire it. The most part of my poor fortune their depends upon the rate of wool.
Lord Whitlock. I have a privilege to offer to you, which will take but a little time. A new member is elected for Ryegate, in Surrey, and the sheriff refuseth to make a return. I desire it may be ordered by this House to make a return.
It seems there is a difference between Sir Thomas Pryde, and the party that is duly chosen, and some call it Sir Thomas Pryde's modesty, that will not return himself; but Mr. Highland said, Sir Thomas Pryde would fain be returned, but he ought not.
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 dishonoured. 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. (fn. 1) 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. (fn. 2)
I conceive this was no standing law, but. only binding to the Jews. The morality may extend to us, but in the modus puniendi, that is not moral. (fn. 3)
I do not understand any thing that James Nayler said to be the denying or cursing of Jehovah, God, or Christ, so not within that text. 24 Leviticus, 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. (fn. 4) This is an opinion held forth in many places. The Lutherans held the ubiquity of Christ; (fn. 5) we are not filii, but filius Dei.
That account of excommunication is much mistaken. He is not delivered over to Satan, (fn. 6) to be understood of the devil.
I am not satisfied by any thing 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 offences against the law of nature. (fn. 7)
But by the common law, lex terræ, 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.
It will be of a dangerous consequence for you to make a law for punishing of an offence 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 for a heretic, because he said he did not know whether by the law of God tithes were payable or no. (fn. 8) 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 honour of your vote and your time too; or, to satisfy those gentlemen that are for his death, you may add to your quesx tion, 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 offence to be horrid blasphemy.
For my part, I am clearly satisfied in the offence, 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 honour 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.
3. The case of Gideon and his men, in Judges (vi. 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."
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 offence 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 dishonouring of God, but a supplanting and taking him wholly away.
This is an offence not only against the law of nature (fn. 9) 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 xiii., and in Zechariah too. I say this case comes even to those texts in Deuteronomy and Zechariah, (fn. 10) for any thing 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 honour 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. (fn. 11) Or, admit a man should now, in a presumptuous and wilful 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, (fn. 12) 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 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 bad 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 any thing 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.
2. The law of God. Answer: these laws were immediately from the mouth of God, stamped upon, and peculiar to that nation, Deuteronomy xii. 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.
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.
Answer to text, Leviticus xxiv. 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.
Answer to that of John v., about cutting off the branches. This was the great text made use of in Queen Mary's time. It was those that 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 Jezabel 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 Saviour'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.
There was great clashing between my Lord Lisle and Lord Whitlock, contending where the blame should lie. Lord Lisle charged Lord Whitlock highly, by several circumstances, that he was consenting to it; but Lord Whitlock justified himself, and so did Rodney's petition clear him: for it said, one of the Commissioners did dissent, and named Lord Whitlock particularly; and the Committee were much satisfied with it. But high words passed between them, especially on Lord Lisle's part; the other was more modest.
Lord Lisle retired, and the Committee came to further debate in the business. The Master of the Rolls laboured to smooth it over, and would have had the petitioners relieved, and the Lords Commissioners clear, for he said the miscarriage happened only by misinformation.
There was one Mr. Thorne, of the Temple, Cole's Solicitor, examined to the seal of the statute, whether the seal wanted not all the wax, and whether he did not tell a member of the House that one Perin, an Attorney (that is now dead) did put the new wax upon the label of the statute. He denied that he said any such thing, but Captain Mason affirmed it to his face, and the Master of the Rolls directed that a member of Parliament ought in evidence to be preferred, for he is under an oath to speak the truth, &c. (Query, what oath a member takes.) Mr. Cole was there, and moved that he might be heard by his counsel, but I could not stay the issue.
This week, one of the seniors of Gray's Inn, viz. Wingate, (fn. 13) that abridged the statutes, died, and also one Mr. Miller of the same house.