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A Hind Let Loose by Alexander Shields

They rejected and craved reformation of exorbitant prelacy


I.

That as they did faithfully keep and contend for the word of Christ's patience under that dispensation, in asserting and maintaining both the verity of Christ's doctrine, and the purity of his worship, by testifying against the corruptions, errors, idolatries and superstitions of popery; so they did constantly bear witness against the usurpation and tyrannical domination of the antichristian prelates. And as the Culdees did vigorously oppose their first introduction, and after aspiring domination, as well as the corruptions of their doctrines, as we have the contendings of eminent witnesses recorded from age to age; in the fourth and fifth age, Columbe, Libthac, Ethernan, Kintegern or Mungo; in the sixth and seventh age, Colmanus, Clemens, and Samson, with others; in the eighth and ninth age, Alcuin, Rabanus, Maurus, Joannes Scotus AErigena, are noted in history. And the Lollards, by their examinations and testimonies, are found to have witnessed against the exercise of their power, and sometimes against the very nature of their power itself: so in their practice they condemned prelacy as well as popery, in that their ministers did in much painfulness, poverty, simplicity, humility, and equality, observe the institution of our Lord. And so far as their light served, and had occasion to enquire into this point, they acknowledged no officer in the house of God superior to a preaching minister, and according to this standard, they rejected and craved reformation of exorbitant prelacy.
And it is plain, that they were frequently discovered by discountenancing and withdrawing from their superstitious and idolatrous worship; for all which, when they could not escape nor repel their violence, they cheerfully embraced and endured the flames.

II. That their adversaries did manage their cruel craft, and crafty cruelty, in murdering those servants of God, much after the same methods that ours do; except that they are many stages outdone by their successors; as much as perfect artists do outstrip the rude beginnings of apprentices. But, on the other hand, the sufferers in our day, that would follow the example of those worthies under Popery, would be much condemned by this generation, even by them that commend the matter of their testimony, though they will not allow the manner of it to be imitated in this day. The adversaries of Christ, in this and that generation, are more like than his confessors and witnesses are. The adversaries then, when constrained by diversions of the time's troubles, or when their designs were not ripe, pretended more moderation and aversation from severity; but no sooner got they opportunity, (which always they sought), but so soon they renewed the battle against Jesus Christ; so now: when they had seven abominations in their hearts, and many cursed designs in their heads, they always spoke fairest; so now: when they had a mind to execute their cruelty, they would resolve before hand whom to pitch upon before conviction; so now: and when so resolved, the least pretence of a fault, obnoxious to their wicked law, would serve their design; so now: they used then to forge articles, and falsely misrepresent their answers, and declarations of their principles; so now. Yet, on the other hand, if now poor sufferers should glory in that they are counted worthy to suffer shame for the name of Christ, as they did then; if now they should suffer with as great chearfulness, for the smallest points as for the greatest heads, as they did then, who endured the flames as gallantly, for eating a goose upon Friday, as others did for the doctrine of justification, or purgatory, or indulgences, or worshipping of images and saints; if now they should speak for every truth in question, with all simplicity and plainness, without reserves or shifts declining a testimony, as they did; if they should supersede from all application to their enemies for favour, and not meddle with either petitioning or bonding with them, as they did; nay, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection: then they might expect the severe censure of ignorant and precise fools, as the most part who suffer now are counted.


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