Monday, December 8, 1656.
A Report for a Naturalizing Bill, read, and resolved to be
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
know 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
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 honour abroad to
Major-General Disbrowe. We must not proceed without
rules; though the offence be heinous enough. We must
either take the law of God, or of man, to regulate our
Upon the common sense of scripture, there are few but do
commit blasphemy, as our Saviour puts it in Mark, (fn. 1) "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. (fn. 2) "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, (fn. 3) and will destroy
this temple:" (fn. 4) the like charge against Stephen. (fn. 5)
I speak not to extenuate Nayler's offence, but, if we judge
by Christian rule, the other persons are more guilty of blasphemy in that sense, than he. They gave him the honour.
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 honoured as our Saviour, 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 Mm 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 honour, 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 offence 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 Saviour. Does not he assume the honour 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 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
honours 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
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
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. (fn. 6)
Lord Whitlock. I cannot but dissent from the gentlemen
that have opened it to be blasphemy. I think it is an offence
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 offence, which
cannot be said what it is, but by expressing the offence 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, had
new punishment appointed him, (i. e.) to be boiled in a hot
lead. (fn. 7) Hackett's case was otherwise, for he set himself up as
a king. (fn. 8)
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
Major Beake. I conceive you ought first to determine the
offence, 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 offence, which never was an
offence before. The Roman senate did the like in cases of
parricide. (fn. 8)
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 læsæ 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
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
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 offence; for the Instrument of Government says, all
shall be protected that profess faith in Jesus Christ, (fn. 10) which,
I suppose, this man does. If you declare it to be such
an high offence, 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 generation of them. (fn. 11) I question whether
the power of the Parliament can put a negative upon any
part of the Government. (fn. 12)
Mr. Downing. You have voted the Report, in the gross, to
be fully proved; so that if there be any thing 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 offence, but as introductory to the offence, as in
a case of an indictment. (fn. 13)
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 ones-self 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
No offence 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 honour 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 honour, there he must be honoured. 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 ones-self 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. (fn. 14) 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 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
disannulls 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 honour
and glory. Now see what you will do. This is the day of
temptation, and trial of your zeal. I can call this offence 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. (fn. 15)
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 (fn. 16) 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, (fn. 17) 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 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 honourable
person offers, none shall meddle at all in matters of religion.
I cannot agree with him, in that Providence has brought this
offence to your doors. We ought to be carefulshow 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 honour 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 (fn. 18) 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 any thing 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 honour of God or your own honour in
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 offence 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 offence 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) (fn. 19) .
I am at a stand what to call this offence. 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 (fn. 20) said upon Best's (fn. 21) 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 suf
fered such worship to be done unto him. For my part, I
think, call it what you will, it is an high offence and encroachment upon the honours 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.
In the afternoon, near four.
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 offence 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 offence. 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 honour here to Christ in him.
That of setting himself up above ten thousand (fn. 22) 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 honour to be done to him by the barbarians, (fn. 23)
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 women
said they did not honour James Nayler, but the Lord.
I hope you are not of opinion that he should suffer death
for this, though it be a heinous offence. Labour, 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 offence 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 ho
nour 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 Hacket, 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 honour. 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 offence, and the punishment. (fn. 24)
The like in Hacket's case.
The like in the Holy Maid of Kent's case, Hen. VIII. (fn. 25)
who said she had immediate intercourse and letters from the
Virgin Mary. Her offence was adjudged high treason.
Resolved, That candles be called for, (fn. 26) 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
I look upon it, in the whole, as a laying a ground to overthrow the Gospel. If so, our labour 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 sceptre at Christ's feet, wherever we find him
reigning, though in this impostor. 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 offence is
not homogenial. It differs from that offence of the Holy
Maid of Kent. The Parliament did justly declare that to be
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
If some of those Parliaments were sitting in our places, I
believe they would condemn most of us for hereticks. 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 honour. 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 any thing 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
offences, and new punishments adequate. Why should you
boggle at this ? My motion is, That it may be voted horrid
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 honour 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.
"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
Acceptance of the woman's salutation. "Arise, &c. My
love, &c." To me this seems a plain owning the honour 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 offence 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 offence. He owns it
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
This is a spiritual judgment and wickedness amongst us.
We draw guilt upon us. We know what Phineas did (fn. 27) 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 Disbrowe. 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
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 offence 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 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 offence 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 offence, as is offered to you, horrid
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
impostor. 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 any thing 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 offence? how can I convince them, from any part of it, that it is
such an offence 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 BλασΦημlα, defamatio, a pertinacious
holding of heresy. You have not any such part of Nayler's
offence 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, (fn. 28) 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
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, he
confessed his imposture and cheat. (fn. 29) Before you vote it any
thing, 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
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 to 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, (fn. 30) 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
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. i. 2.)
"I was a blasphemer," said Paul. "I did it incuriously."
"Whoever shall set up a sign," (27 Deut.) 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 honour 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 honour as to a
Deity, though invisible.
In murder, a man destroys, as much as in him is, the seed of
mankind: blasphemy much more. Perjury destroys a man
in the same sense by consequence in his life, and it perisheth
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 Disbrowe. 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 offence 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 honour due to Christ? Did
he reprove those that gave him that honour ? 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 (fn. 31) in respect to this. Let us not betray God Almighty. The report was made very justly and faithfully.
I am of 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 upon.
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. (fn. 32) . 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 (fn. 33) in Hertfordshire. If it were not to reach
his life, I believe a great many would be free in this vote.
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
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
You christen this offence 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 offence. (fn. 34)
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
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 Shapeot. Put the question whether the word horrid should be part of the question, and this will determine
the debate and save your labour.
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.
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
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 honour 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 offence 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
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.
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 impostor, and a great seducer of the people.
Mr. Bampfield and Major-General Skippon. Adjourn this
debate till to-morrow, 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 Hatsel. I am for adjourning till to-morrow; 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. (fn. 36) Possi
bly some good may be wrought upon him, and in the mean
time, 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. (fn. 37)
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 to-morrow
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, (fn. 38) &c.; desired the
House would take it into consideration, and do something
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 his 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.