Journal of the House of Commons: Volume 6, 1648-1651. Originally published by His Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1802.
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Die Jovis, 20 Februarii, 1650.
MR. Millington reports from the Committee of plundered Ministers, the Exceptions taken to the Book, intituled, "The Clergy in their Colours," and to the Book, intituled, "The Bellows," &c.: With the Opinion and Resolutions of the said Committee thereupon: . . . . were this Day read.
Exceptions taken by the Committee for plundered Ministers, against the Book, intituled, "The Accuser shamed," &c. by the accused John Fry, Februarii 13, 1650.
1. THAT he, the said John Fry, hath published, in Print, the Accusation that was made against him, viva coce only, in the House of Parliament, by a Member of Parliament; often particularly naming and reproaching the said Member, in the said Book, Title Page, and Page 14, 15, 16, 17.
2. That he denies the Trinity, calling it, "A chaffy and absurd Opinion of Three Persons, or Subsistences, in the Godhead," Title Page, and Page 15; and especially, Page the 22, Line the 14; viz. "Persons, and Subsistences, and Substances, or Accidents. As for the Word Person, I do not understand that it can properly be attributed but to Man. It is out of Doubt with me, that, if you ask the most Part of Men, what they mean by a Person, they will either tell you 'tis a Man, or else they are not able to give you any Answer at all: And, for the Word Accident, I suppose none will attribute that to God; for, according to my poor Skill, that Word imports no more, but the Figure or Colour, &c. of a Thing: And certainty no Man ever saw the likeness of God; as the Scriptures abundantly testify: And therefore neither of the Words, Persons, or Subsistences, can hold forth such a Meaning as Accidents in God. Athanasius, in his Creed, faith, 'There is one Person of the Father, another of the Son; and another of the Holy Ghost:' Others say; That there is Three distinct Subsistences in God: Well! these Three Persons, or Subsistences, cannot be Accidents; neither do I think it is the Meaning of any: Then certainly they must be Substances: If so, then they must be created or uncreated; limited or unlimited: If created, and limited; then the Person of the Father is a Creature, the Person of the Son a Creature, and the Person of the Holy Ghost a Creature; which I think none will affirm: If they are not created, or limited, then they must be uncreated and unlimited; for I know no Medium between created and uncreated, limited and unlimited: If they are uncreated and unlimited, then there are Three uncreated and unlimited Substances; and so, consequently, Three Gods. For my Part, I find no Footing for such Expressions in Scripture; and I think them fit only to keep ignorant People in carnal and gross Thoughts of God: And therefore I do explore them out of my Creed."
Resolved, by the Committee, That the aforesaid Second Exception be reported to the House, as containing Matter of Blasphemy.
Exceptions taken by the said Committee against the Book, intituled, "The Clergy in their Colours;" printed under the Name of John Fry, a Member of the Parliament of England.
THAT the said Committee do except against the Clause in the Book, Page 39, Line 17, as scandalous; viz. "I cannot let pass one Observation: And that is, The strange Posture these Men put themselves into, when they begin their Prayers before their Sermons: Whether the Fools and Knaves in Stage Plays took their Pattern from these Men, or these from them, I cannot determine, &c. What wry Mouths, squint Eyes, screwed Faces, do they make!" And Page 41, Line 3; viz. "Again, how like a Company of Conjurers do they mumble out the Beginning of their Prayers, that the People may not hear them! and, when artificially they have raised their Voices, what a Puling do they make!"
This Committee being of Opinion, That the aforesaid Passages are sit to be excepted against, in regard they are scandalous.
That the said Committee do further except against the Clause, Page 49, Line 1; viz. "I must confess, I have heard much of believing Things above Reason; and the Time was, when I swallowed that Pill: But I may say, as St. Paul, &c. When I was a Child, &c. Every Man that knoweth any thing, knoweth this: that it is Reason that distinguisheth a Man from a Beast: If you take away his Reason, you deny his very Essence: Therefore, if any Man will consent to give up his Reason, I would as soon converse with a Beast as with that Man: And whatsoever Pretence some may make of Religion; in this Particular, certainly there is nothing else in it but Ignorance and Policy."
The said Committee do further except against the Clause, Page 11, Line 14, to the End of the Thirteenth Page; "I have for some Years past entered into a serious Consideration of my latter End, and of a Saint's Life in this World: And, being convinced, that I should not be saved by an implicit Faith, I took Example by the Bereans, to search the Scriptures, whether such Things as I heard and read of God, and his Attributes, Heaven, Hell, Angels both good and bad, Man, Prayer, Sin, were so or no: And, upon a narrow Scrutiny, I sound such Contradictions, Absurdities, and Inconsequences, in many considerable Things, that I wondered I had been so long blind, &c. After I had a full Sight of these Things; and that from mine own Experience, I concluded, that Men greedily swallow down such Doctrines; and that some of the Teachers, as well zealously, through Ignorance as otherwise, held them forth."
That it appears to this Committee, that the whole Scope of the Book doth tend to the Overthrow of the Preachers and Preaching of the Gospel.
That both the said Books, throughout, are against. . . Doctrine and Assertions of the true Religion.
Memorandum, That Colonel Waite, and Colonel Peter Temple, did testify before the said Committee, That Mr. John Fry, a Member of Parliament, did give unto each of them the said Book, called, "The Clergy in their Colours."
Mr. Fry being present, according to Summons;
Resolved, That the Question be asked of Mr. Fry, Whether the Books, one of them intituled, "The Bellows, &c." and the other intituled, "The Clergy in their Colours," be his Books; and whether he own them.
Mr. Speaker shewed both the Books, with those Titles, to Mr. Fry; and asked him, Whether the Books, one of them intituled, "The Bellows," &c. and the other intituled, "The Clergy in their Colours," be his Books; and whether he owns them.
Mr. Fry replied, That he did write some Things of this Nature: But, unless he may examine them, with his Copies of them, he cannot say whether he do own these or no.
Resolved, That Mr. Fry be asked whether he wrote any Books with such Titles, as the Book now shewed him.
And Mr. Speaker did accordingly ask him that Question.
The Book, intituled, "The Clergy in their Colours," &c. being shewed him;
He doth confess, he wrote a Book with that Title; but knoweth not whether all that is in this Book be his.
The other Book intituled, "The Accuser shamed," &c. being shewed to Mr. Fry;
He faith, He did not write a Book with that Title that this Book bears.
Resolved, That the House do take up the Debate upon the Report now brought in by the Committee on these Two Books, on Saturday next, notwithstanding the Order of the House for not sitting that Day: And that the House do admit no other Business that Day: And that Mr. Fry be then present.
Resolved, That, in the mean time, the same Committee do examine, who was the Author of the Book called, "The Accuser shamed;" and who put the Title to it: With Power to send for the Printer, Persons, Papers, and Witnesses; and to report it to the House on Saturday Morning.
Letter from Holland.
The Question being put, That the Letter delivered by Mr. Speaker, from the States of Holland and Westfriezland, be read To-morrow Morning;
It passed with the Negative.
And the Question being put, That the said Letter be now read;
It was Resolved, That the said Letter be now read.
The Letter was read accordingly.