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A Hind Let Loose by Alexander Shields

And only essay to prove this thesis we cannot


dreadful defection, which is

carried on by these men and their favourers, to give her a bill of divorce) nor at the ministry, for they love those that stand to their principles dearly, and are most willing to hear them either in public or private. 5. It is granted by all that write against separatists, that separation from a church is lawful, when the case so falleth out, that union cannot be kept up with her without sin,' Voet. Polit. Eccles. p. 68. quest. 17. 6. The grave author of Rectius Instruendum Confut. 3 dial. chap. pag. 7. &c. 'Allows, every separation is not schism, even from the church which hath essentials; yea, and more than essentials: if it be from those (though never so many) who are drawing back from whatever piece of duty and integrity is attained; for this is still to be held fast, according to many scripture commands. So Elias, when God's covenant was forsaken, was as another Athanasius (I and I only am left) in point of tenacious integrity. 7. Next he says, If we separate in that which a national church hath commanded us as her members to disown, by her standing acts and authority, while those from whom we separate own that corruption. 8. Likewise he there asserts, there is a lawful forbearance of union and compliance with notorious backsliders, in that which is of itself sinful, or inductive to it: which is far from separation strictly taken. The commands of abstaining from all appearance of evil, and hating the garment spotted with the flesh, do clearly include this. 9. He adds,
many things will warrant separation from such a particular minister or congregation; which will not warrant separation from the church national; nor infer it, by Mr. Durham's acknowledgment (on Scandal, pag. 129.) for if scandals become excessive, he allows to depart to another congregation. 10. Lastly, He says, There is a commanded withdrawing from persons and societies even in worship, the precepts, Rom. xvi. 17. 2 Cor. vi. 17. Prov. xix. 27. Acts ii. 40. will clearly import this by consequence.--Surely the ministers and professors, adhering to the reformation, must be the true church of Scotland, though the lesser number: these soldiers who keep the generals orders, are the true army, not the deserters of the same.'

But, Secondly, it being in part cleared by these assertions, what is our mind in this controversy, I shall lay down from scripture oracles, all the causes and cases justifying and warranting withdrawing from any ministers; with application of all of them to the curates, and accommodation of some of them to all that the wanderers withdraw from: with arguments endeavouring to evince the validity of them, and evidencing they are not new notions, but the same grounds which approven authors have improved in this controversy. I shall omit the ordinary criticisms in stating the question, in distinguishing betwixt hearing and joining in worship, and owning them as our ministers, and submitting to them, &c. And only essay to prove this thesis: we cannot, without sin, own church communion in gospel ordinances with the prelates or their curates, as our ministers, but must withdraw from them, and any other guilty of the like corruptions, which we can make out against them. I shall not resume what confirmations this thesis is strengthned with, from the testimonies, or church constitutions of former periods, which are permitted in the foregoing discourse; nor make any repetition of the circumstances of our present condition, represented above, which contributes to clear it: but shortly come to the arguments.


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