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A Hind Let Loose by Alexander Shields

And can no more be owned to be magistracy


it have the stamp of God's

authority. It must needs then follow, that conscience hath a very great concernment in this question in the general, and that before it be forced to an abandoning of its light in a matter of such moment, it will rather oblige people that are conscientious to suffer the worst that tyrants can do; especially when it is imposed and obtruded upon conscience, to give its sufferage and express acknowledgment that the present tyranny is the authority of God, which is so visible in the view of all that have their eyes open, that the meanest capacity that was never conversant in laws and politics can give this verdict that the constitution and administration of the government of the two royal brothers, under whose burden the earth and we have been groaning these twenty-seven years past, hath been a complete and habitual tyranny, and can no more be owned to be magistracy, than robbery can be acknowledged to be a rightful possession. It is so plain, that I need not the help of lawyers and politicians to demonstrate it, nor launch into the ocean of their endless debates in handling the head of magistracy and tyranny: yet I shall improve what help I find in our most approved authors who have enlarged upon this question, (though not as I must state it) to dilucidate the matter in Thesi, and refer to the foregoing deduction of the succession of testimonies against tyranny, to clear it in Hypothesi. Whence we may see the occasion, and clearly gather the solution of the question, which is this:

style="text-align: justify;">Whether a people, long oppressed with the encroachments of tyrants and usurpers, may disown their pretended authority; and, when imposed upon, to acknowledge it, may rather choose to suffer than to own it?

To clear this question: I shall premit some concessions, and then come more formally to resolve it.

1. It must be granted the question is extraordinary, and never so stated by any writer on this head; which makes it the more difficult and odious, because odd and singular, in the esteem of those who take up opinions rather from the number of votes than from the weight of the reasons of the asserters of them. It will also be yielded, that this was never a case of confession for Christians to suffer upon. And the reason of both is, because, before these seven years past, this was never imposed upon private and common subjects to give an account of their thoughts and conscience about the lawfulness of the government they lived under. Conquerors and usurpers sometimes have demanded an acknowledgment of their authority, from men of greatest note and stroke in the countries they have seized; but they never since the creation urged it upon common people, as a test of loyalty; but thought always their laws and power to execute them on offenders, did secure their subjection. Or otherwise to what purpose are laws made, and the execution of them committed to men in power, if they be not thought a sufficient fence for the authority that makes them; except it also have the actual acknowledgment of the subjects to ratify it? Men that are really invested with authority, would think it both a disparagement to their authority, and would disdain such a suspicion of the questionableness of it, as to put it as a question to the subjects, whether they owned it or not. But the gentlemen that rules us, have fallen upon a piece of unprecedented policy; wherein they think both to involve the nation in the guilt of their unparalelled rebellion against the Lord, by owning that authority that promotes it; and so secure their usurpations, either by the suffrage of all that own them, or by the extirpation of the conscientious that dare not, with the odium


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