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A Hind Let Loose by Alexander Shields

For taking off the statutes against papists


as any former declarations, yet neither in this had they the concurrence of any ministers or professors; who as they had been silent, and omitted a seasonable testimony against prelacy, and the supremacy, when these were introduced, so now also, even when this wicked mystery and conspiracy of popery and tyranny, twisted together in the present design of antichrist, had made so great a progress, and was evidently brought above board, they were left to let slip this opportunity of a testimony also, to the reproach of the declining and far degenerate church of Scotland. Yea to their shame, the very rabble of ignorant people may be brought as a witness against the body of presbyterian ministers in Scotland, in that they testified their detestation of the first erection of the idolatrous mass, and some of the soldiery, and such as had no profession of religion, suffered unto death for speaking against popery and the designs of the king, while the ministers were silent. And some of the curates, and members of the late parliament, 1686, made some stickling against the taking away of the penal statutes against papists; while presbyterians, from whom might have been expected greater opposition, were sleeping in a profound submission. I cannot without confusion of spirit touch these obvious and dolorous reflections, and yet in candour cannot forbear them. However the persecution against the wanderers went on, and more cruel edicts were given forth against them, while a relenting abatement of severity was pretended against other dissenters. At length what could not be obtained by law at the late parliament, for taking off the statutes against papists, was effectuated by prerogative: and to make it pass with the greater approbation, it was conveyed in a channel of pretended clemency, offering a sort of liberty, but really introducing a licentious latitude, for bringing in all future snares by taking off some former, as arbitrarily as before they were imposed, in a proclamation, dated Feb. 12, 1687. 'Granting by the king's sovereign authority, prerogative royal, and absolute power, which all subjects are to obey without reserve, a royal toleration, to the several professors of the Christian religion afternamed, with and under the several conditions, restrictions, and limitations aftermentioned. In the first place, tolerating the moderate presbyterians to meet in their private houses, and there to hear all such ministers, as either have or are willing to accept of the indulgence allenerly, and none other: and that there be nothing said or done contrary to the well and peace of his reign, seditious or treasonable, under the highest pains these crimes will import, nor are they to presume to build meeting houses, or to use out-houses or barns----in the mean time it is his royal will and pleasure, that field conventicles, and such as preach at them, or who shall any way assist or connive at them, shall be prosecute according to the utmost severity of laws made against them----in like manner tolerating the quakers to meet and exercise in their form, in any place or places appointed for their worship----and by the same absolute power, foresaid, suspending, stopping, and disabling all laws or acts of parliament, customs or constitutions against any Roman catholic subjects----so that they shall in all things be as free in all respects as any protestant subjects whatsoever, not only to exercise their religion, but to enjoy all offices, benefices, &c. which he shall think fit to bestow upon them in all time coming----and cassing, annulling, and discharging all oaths whatsoever, and tests, and laws enjoining them. And in place of them this oath only is to be taken----I A.B. do acknowledge, testify, and declare that James the VII. &c. is rightful king and supreme governor of these realms, and over all persons therein; and that it is unlawful for subjects, on any pretence or for any cause whatsoever, to rise in arms against him, or any

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