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A Hind Let Loose by Alexander Shields

And countenanced and encouraged as religion

7. Considering the effects already produced thereby, they cannot but abhor it. Seeing the eyes of all that are tender may afflict their hearts, observing how the papists are hereby encouraged and encreased in numbers, the whole nation overflowed with their hellish locusts, and all places filled with priests and Jesuits, yea the executive power of the government put into the hands of the Romanists, and on the other hand how the people are endangered with their abounding and prevailing errors (to which the Lord may and will give up those that have not received the love of the truth) truth is fallen in the streets and equity cannot enter, a testimony against antichrist is abandoned and laid aside as unseasonable, the edge of zeal for the interest of Christ is blunted and its fervour extinguished, they that should stand in the gap and upon the watch tower are laid aside form all opposition to the invasions of the enemy, and lulled asleep by this bewitching charm and intoxicating opium, ministers and, professors are generally settling on their lees and languishing in a fatal security, defection is carried on, division promoted, and destruction is imminent. Is it not then both a part of the witness of the faithful, and of their wisdom to stand aloof from such a plague, that hath such destructive effects?

8. Considering the nature and name of this pretended liberty, they cannot but disdain it as most dishonourable to the cause of Christ. It is indeed the honour of kings and happiness of people, to have true human and Christian liberty established in the common wealth, that is, liberty of persons from slavery; liberty of privileges from tyranny, and liberty of conscience from all impositions of men; consisting in a freedom from the doctrines, traditions, and commandments of men against or beside the word of God in the free enjoyment of gospel ordinances in purity and power, and in the free observance and establishment of all his institutions of doctrine, worship, discipline, and government, in subordination to the only rule of conscience, the revealed will of its only lawgiver Jesus Christ. When this is ratified as a right by the sanction of approven authority, and countenanced and encouraged as religion, by the confirmation of laws, approving whatsoever is commanded by the God of heaven to be done for the house of the God of heaven (which is the full amount of all magistrates authority) then we are obliged to accept of it with all thankful acceptation. But such a liberty, as overturns our rights, our privileges, our laws, our religion, and tolerates it only under the notion of a crime, and indemnifies it under the notion of a fault to be pardoned, and allows the exercise thereof only in part so and so modified, cannot be accepted by any to whom the reproach thereof is a burden, and to whom the reproaches of Christ are in esteem, in such a day, when even the hoofs of Christ's interest buried in bondage are to be contended for. Whatever liberty this may be to some consciences, it is none to the tender according to the rule of conscience, it is only a toleration which is always of evil: for that which is good cannot be tolerated under the notion of good, but countenanced and encouraged as such. Therefore this reflects upon our religion, when a toleration is accepted which implies such a reproach: and the annexed indemnity and pardon tacitely condemns the profession thereof as a fault or crime, which no Christian can bear with or by his acceptance homologate these reproaches, if he consider the nature of it: and much more will he be averse from it, if he consider how dishonourable it is to God (whatever some addresses, particularly the presbyterians at London, have blasphemously alledged, that God is hereby restored to his empire over the conscience) since the granter, after he hath robbed the Mediator of his supremacy and given it away to antichrist, and God of his supremacy imperial as universal king by a claim of absolute power peculiar to him, he hath also robbed him of his empire over the conscience, in giving every man the empire over his own conscience, which he reserves a power to retract whom he pleases.

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