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Lawes Divine - Excerpt From "lawes Divine, Morall And Martiall"

death pain god punishment

Note: Lawes 1 through 10 are a modern English translation. To serve as an example, the remainder of the excerpt is in the original Old English wording. Reading at a careful pace, it is relatively easy to understand.

Whereas his Majesty . . . has in his own realms a principal care of true religion and reverence to God and has always strictly commanded his generals and governors, with all his forces wheresoever, to let their ways be, like his ends, for the glory of God. . . .

1. First, Since we owe our highest and supreme duty, our greatest, and all our allegiance to Him for whom all power and authority is derived and flows as from the first and only fountain, and being especial soldiers impressed in this sacred cause, we must alone expect our success from Him, who is only the blesser of all good attempts, the king of kings, the commander of commanders, and lord of hosts, I do strictly command and charge all captains and officers, of what quality or nature soever, whether commanders in the field or in town or towns, forts or fortresses, to have a care that the Almighty God be duly and daily served and that they call upon their people to hear sermons, as that also they diligently frequent morning and evening prayer themselves by their own exemplar and daily life and duty herein, encouraging to the martial law in the case provide. . . . [All power, success, and good comes from the Lord. He is the supreme commander. All officers of the colony owe their allegiance to the Lord. All officers must set an example for the settlers by faithfully attending all sermons and morning and afternoon prayer. If officers fail to set a proper example they will receive appropriate punishment.]

3. That no man blaspheme God's holy name upon pain of death, or use unlawful oaths, taking the name of God in vain, curse, or bane upon pain of severe punishment for the first offense so committed and for the second to have a bodkin thrust through his tongue; and if he continue the blaspheming of God's holy name, for the third time so offending, he shall be brought to a martial court and there receive censure of death of his offense. [No one may curse or mock the name of the Lord, which is blasphemy. Punishment for the first offense is not specified but would involve severe pain; punishment for the second offense was a pierced tongue; and for the third offense, death.]

4. No man shall use any traitorous words against his Majesty's person or royal authority, upon pain of death. [No settler may betray the trust or refuse to carry out a duty demanded by an officer of the settlement; officers are appointed by the king. Punishment is death.]

5. No man shall speak any word or do any act which may tend to the derision or despite of God's holy word upon pain of death; nor shall any man unworthily demean himself unto any preacher or minister of the same, but generally hold them in all reverent regard and dutiful entreaty; otherwise he the offender shall openly be whipped three times, and ask public forgiveness in the assembly of the congregation three several Sabbath days.

6. Every man and woman duly, twice a day upon the first tolling of the bell, shall upon the working days repair unto the church to hear divine service upon pain of losing his or her day's allowance for the first omission, for the second to be whipped, and for the third to be condemned to the galleys for six months. Likewise, no man or woman shall dare to violate or break the Sabbath by any gaming, public or private abroad or at home, but duly sanctify and observe the same, both himself and his family, by preparing themselves at home with private prayer that they may be the better fitted for the public, according to the commandments of God and the orders of our church. As also every man and woman shall repair in the morning to the divine service and sermons preached upon the Sabbath day in the afternoon to divine service and catechizing, upon pain for the first fault to lose their provision and allowance for the whole week following, for the second to lose the said allowance and also to be whipped, and for the third to suffer death. . . .

8. He that, upon pretended malice, shall murder or take away the life of any man, shall be punished with death. [No man shall murder another.]

9. No man shall commit the horrible and detestable sins of sodomy, upon pain of death, and he or she that can be lawfully convicted of adultery shall be punished with death. No man shall ravish or force any woman, maid or Indian or other, upon pain of death; and know that he or she that shall commit fornication, and evident proof made thereof, for their first fault shall be whipped, for their second they shall be whipped, and for their third they shall be whipped three times a week for one month and ask public forgiveness in the assembly of the congregation.

10. No man shall be found guilty of sacrilege, which is a trespass as well committed in violating and abusing any sacred ministry, duty, or office of the church irreverently or prophanely, as by being a church robber to filch, steal, anything out of the church appertaining thereunto or unto any holy and consecrated place to the divine service of God which no man shall do upon pain of death. Likewise, he that shall rob the store of any commodities therein of what quality soever, whether provisions of victuals, or of arms, trucking stuff, apparel, linen, or woolen, hose or shoes, hats or caps, instruments or tools of steel, iron, etc., or shall rob from his fellow soldier or neighbor anything that is his, victuals, apparel, household stuff, tool, or what necessary else soever, by water or land, out of boat, house, or knapsack shall be punished with death. . . . [(a) No one may disrespect or abuse church sacraments like baptism, taking communion, or marriage; (b) no one may steal or destroy items belonging to the church or ministry; (c) no one may steal from the supply house or from anyone else's property—food, weapons, clothes, material, tools, etc.; (d) punishment for all could be death.]

15. No man of what condition soeuer shall barter, trucke, or trade with the Indians, except he be thereunto appointed by lawful authority, vpon paine of death. . . .

23. No man shall imbezell, lose, or willingly breake, or fraudulently make away, either Spade, Shovell, Hatchet, Axe, Mattocke, or other toole or instrument vppon paine of whipping.

24. Any man that hath any edge toole, either of his owne, or which hath heretofore beene belonging to the store, see that he bring it instantly to the storehouse, where he shall receive it againe by a particular note, both of the toole, and of his name taken, that such a toole vnto him appertaineth, at whose hands, vpon any necessary occasion, the said toole may be required, and this shall he do, vpon paine of seuere punishment [anyone who has borrowed a tool must return it, then sign it out again when needed by using his name]. . . .

31. What man or woman soeuer, shall rob any garden, publike or priuate, beingset to weed the same, willfully pluck vp therein any roote, herbe, or flower, to spoile and wast or steale the same, or robbe any vineyard, or gather vp the grapes, or steale any eares of the corne growing, whether in the ground belonging to the same fort or towne where he dwelleth, or in any other, shall be punished with death [no stealing from another's garden or vineyard; punishment is death]. . . .

All such Bakers are appointed to bake bread, or what else, either for the store to be giuen out in generall, or for any one in particular, shall not steale nor imbezell, loose, or defraud any man of his due and proper weight and measure nor vse any dishonest and deceiptfull tricke to make the bread weigh heavier, or make it courser vpon purpose to keepe back any part or measure of the flower or meale committeed vnto him [bakers must follow a strict recipe for baking bread and use a set amount of ingredients]. . . .

All such cookes as are appointed to seeth [i.e., boil], bake or dresse any manner of way, flesh, fish, or what else, of what kind soeuer, either for the generall company, or for any private man, shall not make lesse, or cut away any part or parcel of such flesh, fish, etc. [cooks must prepare food without holding back any for themselves]. . . .

All fishermen, dressers of Sturgeon or such like appointed to fish, or to cure the said Sturgeon for the vse of the Colonie, shall giue a just and true account of all said fish as they shall take by day or night . . . the first time offending heerein, of losing his eares, and for the second time to be condemned a yeare to the Gallies, and for the third time offending, to be condemned to the Gallies for three yeares [fishermen must accurately report all fish they catch; punishment for bakers, cooks, and fishermen: first offense—loss of ears; second offense—a year in a ship galley; third offense—three years in a galley]. . . .

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