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A Hind Let Loose by Alexander Shields

And the goodliness of the words of their testimony

loose, by the mercy of the Mighty One of Jacob, from the nets of the hunters and snares of the fowlers, and from the yoke of the bondage of these beasts of prey, to whose authority they will not own a willing subjection; and being such "hinds," so "let loose," they make it their work to give goodly words, for the worth and honour, and royalties of their princely master, and for the precious liberties wherewith he hath endoted and entrusted his spouse and children, and to keep the goodly words of his patience, until he return "as a roe or a young hart upon the mountains of Bether." This being the party who are represented as the wild folk of Scotland, the design of this treatise is to hold forth the history of their manifold chaces, the craft, keeness, and cruelty of their hunters, and the goodliness of the words of their testimony, which, by reason of the likeness of the testimony of former periods with the present, and that the latter may be vindicated by the former, is resumed from the beginning of the Church of Scotland's wrestlings against the enemies of Christ, and deduced through all the most signal steps of this long propagated and hereditary war. And, lest my words should not be goodly enough, nor my notions grateful to the critics of this age, who cast every thing as new and nice, which is someway singular, and not suited to their sentiments; that it may appear the cause here cleared and vindicated is not of yesterday, but older than their grandfathers who oppose it, I dare avouch, without vanity, there is nothing here but what is confirmed by authors of greatest note and repute in our church, both ancient and modern, namely, Buchanan, Knox, Calderwood, Acts of General Assemblies, Causes of Wrath, Lex Rex, Apologetical Relation, Naphtali, Jus Populi, History of the Indulgence, Banders Disbanded, Rectius Instruendum, and some other authors much respected, whose authority, more always repelled by rage than ever yet refitted by reason; though I value more than all the vain oblatrations of the opposers of this testimony, and think it sufficient to confute all imputations of its novelty, and to counterbalance the weight that may be laid on the contradictions of the greatest that treat on this subject, yet I do not lay so much stress on the reason of their authority as on the authority of their reason, which is here represented with that candour and care, that, lest any should cavil that they are wrested or wronged when made to speak so patly to the present controversies, I have chosen rather to transcribe their words, than to borrow their matter dressed up in my own, except where the prolixity and multiplicity of their arguments, as clearly demonstrating that which I adduce them for, as that for which they were primarily intended, did impose the necessity of abridging them, which yet is mostly in their own words, though reduced into a sollogistical form. But this obloquy of novelty being anticipated, when I reflect on the helps I have collected from so many hands, I am rather afraid the truths here delivered be contemned as obsolete and antiquate, than cast at for new speculations. However, I am content; yea it is my ambition, that nothing here be looked upon as mine, but that it may appear this is an old plea, and that the party here pleaded for, who are stigmatized with many singularities, are a people who ask the old paths, and the good way, that they may walk therein; and though their paths be not now much paved, by the frequency of passengers, and multitude of professors walking therein, and albeit it must indeed be confessed the word of their testimony is someway singular, that the same things were never the word of Christ's patience, stated as heads of suffering before, yet they are not untrodden paths, but the same way of truth which hath been maintained by the witnesses of Christ in all the periods of our church, and asserted by the greatest confessors, though never before sealed by martyrs. As for the arguments I bring to clear and confirm them, whether they be accounted mine, or borrowed from others, I am very indifferent, if they prove the point they are brought for, which I hope they will be found to do; but of this I am confident, there is nothing here can be condemned until some one or more of these grave authors be confuted; and, when that is done, (which will be never, or against the _thirtieth of February_), there is something besides here, which will challenge consideration.

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