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A Hind Let Loose by Alexander Shields

Distinguishing it always from allegiance


where no ouvert act in project

or practice can be proven against it, cannot be treason in any law in the world: so a cautelous answer, in such a ticklish, and intrapping imposition, cannot be censured in point of lawfulness or expediency, even though much be conceded, to stop the mouths of these bloody butchers, gaping greedily after the blood of the answerer; if he do not really own, but give them to understand, he cannot approve of this tyranny. But as these poor faithful witnesses, who were helped to be most free, have always been honoured with the most signal countenance of the Lord in a happy issue of their testimony: so those that used their prudentials most, in seeking shifts to shun severity, and studying to satisfy these inquisitors with their stretched concessions, were ordinarily more exposed to snares, and found less satisfaction in their sufferings even though they could say much to justify, or at least extenuate their shiftings. I knew one, who had proof of this, who afterwards was ashamed of this kind of prudence. A short account of whose managing of answers to this question, because it may conduce somewhat to the explication of it, may here be hinted. The question moved after the usual form, was, do ye own the authority of king James VII. In answer to which, he pleaded first, for the immunity of his thoughts, which he said were not subject to theirs or any tribunal. When this could not be an evasion from their extortions, he objected the ambiguity of the terms in which the question was conceived,
being capable of divers senses: and enquired, what they meant by authority? What, by owning authority? By authority, whether did they mean the administration of it as now improved? If so, then he was not satisfied with it: or the right, as now established? If so, then he was not clear to give his opinion of it, as being neither significant nor necessary; and that it was fitter for lawyers and those that were better acquaint with the secrets of government, than for him to dispute it.

Again he asked, what they meant by owning? Either it is passive subjection, that he did not decline; or active acknowledgment of it and that he said he looked upon as all the suffrage he could give to its establishment in his station, which he must demur upon some scruple. The replies he received were very various, and some of them very rare, either for ignorance or imposture. Sometimes, it was answered: to own the king's authority, is to take the oath of allegiance; this he refused. Some answered, it is to engage never to rise in arms against the king, upon any pretence whatsoever; this he refused likewise. Others explained it to be, to acknowledge his right to be king: to his he answered, when the authority is legally devolved upon him by the representatives of both kingdoms, it was time enough for him to give account of his sentiments. Others defined it, to own him to be a lawful king by succession. To this he answered, he did not understand succession could make a man formally king, if there were not some other way of conveyance of it; it might put him in the nearest capacity to be king, but could not make him king.

Some did thus paraphrase upon it, that he must own him to be his sovereign Lord under God, and God's vicegerent, to be obeyed in all things lawful. To this he answered, whom God appoints, and the people choose according to law, he would own. When those shifts would not do, but from time to time being urged to a categorical answer; he told them, he was content to live in subjection to any government providence set up; but for owning the present constitution as of God, and according to law, he durst not acknowledge it, nor own any mortal as his lawful sovereign, but in terms consistent with the covenant securing religion and liberty. This not satisfying, when he came to a more pinching trial; he declared, he owned all lawful authority according to the word of God, and all authority that was the ordinance of God by his preceptive will, and he could be subject to any; but further to acknowledge it, he behoved to have more clearness; for sometimes a nation might be charged with that, 'Ye have set up kings, and not by me,' &c. Further he conceded, he owned his providential advancement to the throne; he owned as much as he thought did oblige him to subject himself with patience; he owned him to be as lawful, as providence possessing him of the throne of his ancestors, and lineal succession, as presumed next in blood and line, could make him: but still he declined to own him as lawful king, and alledged that was all one, whether he was lawful or not, he refused not subjection, distinguishing it always from allegiance.


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