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A Hind Let Loose by Alexander Shields

Whether it be magistracy or tyranny


This may seem very paradoxical to some, because so dissonant and dissentient from the vulgar, yea almost universal and inveterate opinion and practice of the world, that hitherto hath not been so precise in the matter of magistracy. And it may seem yet more strange, that not only some should be found to assert this; but that any should be found so strict and strait laced, as to adventure upon suffering, and even to death, for that which hath hitherto been seldom scrupled, by any that were forced to subjection under a yoke, which they had no force to shake off, and wherein religion seems little or nothing concerned; for not owning the authority of the present possessors of the place of government: which seems to be a question not only excentric and extrinsic to religion, but such a state-question, as for its thorny intricacies and difficulties, is more proper for politicians and lawyers to dispute about, (as indeed their debates about this head of authority, have been as manifold and multiplied as about any one thing) than for private christians to search into, and suffer for, as a part of their testimony. But if we will cast off prejudices, and the tyranny of custom, and the bondage of being bound to the world's mind in our inquiries about tyranny, and suffer ourselves to ponder impartially the importance of this matter; and then to state the question right; we shall find religion and conscience hath no small interest in this business. They must have no small interest in it, if we consider the importance of this matter, either extensively, objectively, or subjectively. Extensively considered, it is the interest of all mankind to know and be resolved in conscience, whether the government they are under be of God's ordination, or of the devil's administration? Whether it be magistracy or tyranny? Whether it gives security for religion and liberty, to themselves and their posterity? Or whether it induces upon themselves, and entails upon the posterity, slavery as to both these invaluable interests? Whether they have matter of praise to God for the blessings and mercies of magistracy, or matter of mourning for the plagues and miseries of tyranny, to the end they may know both the sins and snares, duties and dangers, cases and crisis, of the times they live in? All men, that ever enjoyed the mercy of a right constitute magistracy, have experienced, and were bound to bless God for the blessed fruits of it: and, on the other hand, the world is full of the tragical monuments of tyranny, for which men were bound both to search into the causes, and see the effects of such plagues from the Lord, to the end they might mourn over both. And from the beginning it hath been observed, that as people's sins have always procured the scourge of tyranny; so all their miseries might be refounded upon tyrants encroachments, usurping upon or betraying their trust, and overturning religion, laws and liberties. Certainly mankind is concerned in point of interest and conscience, to inquire into the cause and cure of this epidemic distemper, that hath so long held the world in misery, and so habitually, that now it is become, as it were, natural to ly stupidly under it; that is, that old ingrained gangrene of the king's evil, or compliance with tyranny, that hath long afflicted the kingdoms of the world, and affected not only their backs in bearing the burden thereof; but their hearts into a lethargic stupor of insensibleness; and their heads in infatuating and intoxicating them with notions of the sacredness and uncontroulableness of tyranny; and their hands in infeebling and fettering them from all attempts to work a cure: or else it hath had another effect on many that have been sensible of a touch of it; even equivalent to that, which an ingenious author, Mr. Gee, in his

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