Thursday, December 11,1656.
A Private Bill was read this morning, but I, not being in
the House, know not what it was.
Whitehall, December 10, as see Diurnal. (fn. 1)
Colonel William Lockhart, his Highnesses Resident in the
Court of France, (fn. 2) had the honour of knighthood conferred
on him by his Highness.
The same honour was conferred upon James Calthorp,
High Sheriff of Suffolk.
Mr. Disbrowe and Mr. West told me we had lost one
member. Mr. Wakering, of Essex, (fn. 3) died of a consumption,
the last week. He was well in the House but a little before.
Upon James Nayler's business.
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 any thing in it. I should willingly have
saved his life, if the height of the offence had not called for a
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
honour 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 prophecicd 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. (fn. 4) We may do the like with all
the 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 any thing 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 die 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 offence ? 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
Saviour Christ to open shame, and sets himself above that
Church, nay, above all mankind, sets himself up as a Saviour,
Let us consider, (1. John's Ep. ii. 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 elude 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.
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 honour of our King.
Wherever such things rise, they are to me sad presages of
the ruin and destruction of a nation.
Revelations ii. 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 dishonour 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 honour, 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 (fn. 5) 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. (fn. 6) ) 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 Terræ, 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 utriusquæ tabulæ; but I think this is "an iniquity to
be punished by the judges." Though I am not of my neighbour'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 offence 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 he death. Let it he of a lower sort, and go
as high in the punishment as you please.
I should he 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, Levit. xxiv. 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. (fn. 7) 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 hone put
to death upon that law. 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," (fn. 8) but never went to judgment till he had the mind and pleasure of God in it.
So that this is not so clear an offence 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 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 Saphira came
in as argument in this business. That was an extraordinary
testimony that Christ himself was pleased to bear against
The administration of the Gospel is quite otherwise. Shall
a minister of the Gospel put a man to death for adultery,
because Fhineas 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." Our zeal for God's glory is as well
commanded under the Gospel as is meekness and lowliness.
Can any body 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
It is said, he denies not Christ, but confesseth him. This
makes his offence the greater, to know Christ, and, in plain
practices, to affront him.
Is this an offence like that of gathering sticks upon the
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 dishonoured, and did you not extenuate and labour, 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
Sir Charles Wolseley. I doubt we shall not dispatch it in an
afternoon. I desire we may consider your health, and our
own, and take to-morrow for it.
The question arose about adjourning till two o'clock, or till
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 to-morrow.
This afternoon sat the Committee of Trade in the Duchy
Chamber, where was appointed to be heard a great case between the Company of Merchants and the Cloth-workers.
Mr. Rich of counsel for the Cloth-workers; but the other
party, per Sir Christopher Pack, pretended they had not notice, so it was put off till Thursday next, where both parties
are to be fully heard by Counsel, if they please, and the Company of Merchants are to have a copy of the Cloth-workers'
Replication, and they are to bring in their Charter, whereby
they claim to export white cloths undressed, contrary to the
statute of 8th Elizabeth. (fn. 9)
I am clearly satisfied, upon the whole matter, that the Clothworkers are injured highly, and eaten up in their trade; but
the merchants, by their influence and power at court, have
always mastered them; and by an injunction always stopped
their proceedings: insomuch, that the statute was altogether
useless to the poor Cloth-workers. Mr. Hindmore engaged
me to be there.
In the Speaker's chamber sat the Committee for Recusants,
Mr. Bedford, Mr. Jonn Goodwin, Colonel Wilton, Sir Richard Onslow, and others, and myself. I pressed much to reduce the manner of conformity, and seisure, and process, &c.,
to be in the old way, but was over-ruled by the Committee.
Mr. Croke and Mr. Pedley were engaged to be there, but
they came not. I hope they will never carry it in the House.
Mr. Attorney-General, and the Speaker, and a great many,
more will be utterly against it. Mr. Bedford and Mr. Butler
are both receivers, (fn. 10) and help to drive on the business for
the benefit of the auditors.