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A Hind Let Loose by Alexander Shields

Whereby many were grievously oppressed


(2.) To press the examples

of some eminent men to draw on the rest. (3.) To banish all arch-heretics at once (that is the most zealous witnesses of Christ) or at least with all expedition by degrees. (4.) To put them out of all power and trust, and put in friends to the catholic interest. (5.) To load the protestant opinions, as are most obnoxious, with all odious contions. (6.) To discharge all private conventicles. (7.) To make and execute rigorous laws against the most dangerous. (8.) To foment all quarrels among protestants, and strengthen the party that is ready to comply. But these, and many other of a deeper projection, and greater perfection, were fallen upon afterwards, equalling the most mischievous machines of Spanish inquisition, or the methods that effectuated the desolation of the church of Bohemia; that were exactly followed, as they are related in Clark's Martyrology. Especially the last of Contzen's rules were industriously observed, in the device of the indulgence both before and after Bothwel, which contributed more to the rending and ruining the remnant, and to expose the faithful to rage and cruelty, than any thing; for when, by these ensnaring favours, many were drawn away from their duty, the rest that maintained it, and kept up the testimony, were both the more easily preyed upon, and more cruelly insulted over. Hence the field-meetings that were kept, were more fiercely pursued after Bothwel than the many before, and more cruel laws were made against them, and more bloody executions,
than I can find words to express in short. But, in a word, no party of Tartars invading the land, or crew of cut-throats destroying the inhabitants, or the most capital malefactors, could have been more violently opposed, or more vigorously fought to be suppressed, than these poor meeters were. But I must make some more special hints.

1. They not only raised more forces to exhaust the strength and substance of the already wasted country, and laid on and continued from one term to another that wicked exaction and cruel oppression of the cess, for the same declared ends of suppressing and banishing what remained of the gospel, and imposed localities for maintaining the soldiers employed in those designs; for refusing which many families were pillaged, plundered, and quite impoverished, besides the beating and abusing them: but also they went on unweariedly with their courts of inquisition, pressing the bonds of peace, and dragging them like dogs to prisons that would not subscribe them, and for taking up in their Porteous' rolls the names of all that were suspected to have been at Bothwel insurrection: which they gathered by the information of sycophants, and reputed them convict, if being summoned they did not appear, and forced others to swear concerning things that are to be enquired after, and delate upon oath whom they did either see or heard that they were in arms, or went to meetings; and such as refused, suffered bonds or banishment. Yea, having made it criminal to reset, harbour, correspond, or converse with these whom they declared rebels, they thereupon imprisoned, fined, and ruined vast numbers, for having seen or spoken with some of them, or because they did not discover or apprehend them when they fancied they might, and even when they were not obliged, and could not know whether they were obnoxious persons or not: for which many gentlemen and others were indicted and imprisoned, and some arraigned and condemned to death. For these causes, the country was harrassed and destroyed by four extraordinary circuit courts, successively going about with their numerous train, whereby many were grievously oppressed, and with their oppressions tempted with many impositions of conscience-debauching oaths, and bonds to compear when called, and to keep the church, and to refrain from going to meetings, &c. and by these temptations involved in compliances and defections.


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