May 1648: An Ordinance for the punishing of Blasphemies and Heresies, with the several penalties therein expressed.

Acts and Ordinances of the Interregnum, 1642-1660. Originally published by His Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1911.

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'May 1648: An Ordinance for the punishing of Blasphemies and Heresies, with the several penalties therein expressed.', in Acts and Ordinances of the Interregnum, 1642-1660, (London, 1911) pp. 1133-1136. British History Online [accessed 20 April 2024]

May, 1648

[2 May, 1648.]

An Enumeration of several errors.;The maintaining and publishing of these with obstinacy shall be felony.

For the preventing of the growth and spreading of Heresie and Blasphemy, Be it Ordained by the Lords and Commons in this present Parliament Assembled, That all such persons as shall from and after the date of this present Ordinance, willingly by Preaching, Teaching, Printing, or Writing, Maintain and publish that there is no God, or that God is not present in all places, doth not know and foreknow all things, or that he is not Almighty, that he is not perfectly Holy, or that he is not Eternal, or that the Father is not God, the Son is not God, or that the Holy Ghost is not God, or that they Three are not one Eternal God: Or that shall in like manner maintain and publish, that Christ is not God equal with the Father, or, shall deny the Manhood of Christ, or that the Godhead and Manhood of Christ are several Natures, or that the Humanity of Christ is pure and unspotted of all sin; or that shall maintain and publish, as aforesaid, That Christ did not die, nor rise from the Dead, nor is ascended into Heaven bodily, or that shall deny his death is meritorious in the behalf of Believers; or that shall maintain and publish as aforesaid, That Jesus Christ is not the Son of God, or that the Holy Scripture (viz.) of the Old Testament, Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1 Samuel, 2 Samuel, 1 Kings, 2 Kings, 1 Chronicles, 2 Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, Ester, Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, The Song of Songs, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations, Ezekiel, Daniel, Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zecharia, Malachi: Of the New Testament, The Gospels according to Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, The Acts of the Apostles, Pauls Epistles to the Romans, Corinthians the first, Corinthians the second, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, Thessalonians the first, Thessalonians the second, to Timothy the first, to Timothy the second, to Titus, to Philemon, the Epistles to the Hebrews, the Epistle of James, the first and second Epistles of Peter, the first, second, and third Epistles of John, the Epistle of Jude, the Revelation of John, is not the Word of God, or that the Bodies of men shall not rise again after they are dead, or that there is no day of Judgment after death; all such maintaining and publishing of such Error or Errors with obstinacy therein, shall by vertue hereof be adjudged Felony, and all such persons upon complaint and proof made of the same in any of the cases aforesaid, before any two of the next Justices of the Peace for that place or County, by the Oaths of two Witnesses (which said Justices of Peace in such cases shall hereby have power to administer) or confession of the party, the said party so accused shall be by the said Justices of the Peace committed to prison without Bail or Mainprise, until the next Goal delivery to be holden for that place or County, and the Witnesses likewise shall be bound over by the said Justices unto the said Goal delivery to give in their evidence; And at the said Goal delivery the party shall be indicted for Felonious Publishing and maintaining such Errour, and in case the Indictment be found, and the Party upon his Trial shall not abjure his said Errour and defence and maintenance of the same, he shall suffer the pains of death, as in case of Felony without benefit of Clergy.

In case of Recantation how such shall be dealt with.

But in case he shall recant or renounce and abjure his said errour or errours, and the maintenance and publishing of the same, he shall nevertheless remain in prison untill he shall finde two sureties, being Subsidy men, that shall be bound with him before two or more Justices of the Peace or Goal delivery, that he shall not thenceforth publish or maintain as aforesaid the said errour or errours any more: And the said Justices shall have power hereby to take Bayl in such cases.

Second offence after renouncing.

And be it further Ordained, That in case any person formerly indicted for publishing and maintaining of such erroneous Opinion or Opinions, as aforesaid, and renouncing and abjuring the same, shall nevertheless again publish and maintain his said former errour or errours, as aforesaid, and the same proved as aforesaid, the said party so offending shall be committed to Prison as formerly, and at the next Goal Delivery shall be indicted as aforesaid. And in case the Indictment be then found upon the Trial, and it shall appear that formerly the party was convicted of the same errour, and publishing and maintaining thereof, and renounced and abjured the same, the Offendor shall suffer death as in case of Felony, without benefit of Clergy.

Other Errors; How such shall be dealt with.

Be it further Ordained by the Authority aforesaid, That all and every person or persons that shall publish or maintain as aforesaid any of the several errours hereafter ensuing, viz. That all men shall be saved, or that man by Nature hath free will to turn to God, or that God may be worshipped in or by Pictures or Images, or that the soul of any man after death goeth neither to Heaven or Hell, but to Purgatory, or that the soul of man dieth or sleepeth when the body is dead, or that Revelations or the workings of the Spirit are a rule of Faith or Christian life, though diverse from or contrary to the written Word of God: or that man is bound to believe no more than by his reason he can comprehend; or that the Moral Law of God contained in the ten Commandments is no rule of Christian life; or that a believer need not repent or pray for pardon of sins; or that the two Sacraments of Baptism and the Lords Supper are not Ordinances commanded by the Word of God, or that the baptizing of Infants is unlawfull, or such Baptism is void, and that such persons ought to be baptized again, and in pursuance thereof shall baptize any person formerly baptized; or that the observation of the Lords day as it is enjoyned by the Ordinances and Laws of this Realm, is not according, or is contrary to the word of God, or that it is not lawfull to joyn in publique prayer or family prayer, or to teach children to pray, or that the Churches of England are no true Churches, nor their Ministers and Ordinances true Ministers and Ordinances, or that the Church Government by Presbytery is Antichristian or unlawfull, or that Magistracy or the power of the Civil Magistrate by Law established in England is unlawfull, or that all use of Arms though for the publique defence (and be the cause never so just) is unlawfull, and in case the Party accused of such publishing and maintaining of any of the said errours shall be thereof convicted to have published and maintained the same as aforesaid, by the Testimony of two or more witnesses upon Oath or confession of the said party before two of the next Justices of the Peace for the said place or County, whereof one to be of the Quorum (who are hereby required and Authorized to send for Witnesses and examine upon Oath in such cases in the presence of the party) The party so convicted shall be ordered by the said Justices to renounce his said Errors in the publique Congregation of the same Parish from whence the complaint doth come, or where the offence was committed, and in case he refuseth or neglecteth to perform the same, at or upon the day, time, and place appointed by the said Justices then he shall be committed to prison by the said Justices until he shall finde two sufficient Sureties before two Justices of Peace for the said place or County (whereof one shall be of the Quorum) that he shall not publish or maintain the said errour or errours any more.

Attainders by force hereof shall not forfeit the estate or corrupt the bloud.

Provided always, and be it Ordained by the Authority aforesaid, that no attainder by virtue hereof shall extend, either to the forfeiture of the estate real or personal of such person attainted, or Corruption of such persons blood.