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A Hind Let Loose by Alexander Shields

Provoking the people to idolatry

rulers for one end; which, if they transgress, sparing the wicked, and oppressing the innocents, they that in the fear of God execute judgment, where God hath commanded, offend not God, although kings do it not: the examples are evident, for Samuel spared not to slay Agag the fat and delicate king of Amalek, whom king Saul had saved; neither spared Elias Jezabel's false prophets, and Baal's priests, albeit that king Ahab was present; Phineas was no magistrate, and yet feared he not to strike Zimri and Cozbi in the very act of filthy fornication; and so, Madam, your Majesty may see that others than magistrates may lawfully punish, and have punished the vice and crimes that God commands to be punished.' He proved it also at more length in his appellation, from Deut. xiii. "If thy brother solicit thee secretly, saying, Let us go serve other gods, consent not to him, let not thine eye spare him, but kill him; let thy hand be first upon him, and afterward the hand of the whole people." Of these words of Moses, two things appertaining to our purpose are to be noted: 'The first is, that such as solicitate only to idolatry ought to be punished to death, without favour or respect of person; for he that will not suffer man to spare his son, wife, &c. will not wink at the idolatry of others, of what state or condition soever they be: it is not unknown that the prophets had revelations of God, which were not common to the people; now, if any man might have claimed any privilege from the rigour of the law, or might have justified his fact, it should have been the prophet, but God commands, that the prophet that shall so solicitate the people to serve strange gods, shall die the death, notwithstanding that he alledge for himself, dream, vision, or revelation, because he teacheth apostacy from God: hereby it may be seen, that none, provoking the people to idolatry, ought to be exempted from the punishment of death. Evident it is, that no state, condition, nor honour can exempt the idolater from the hands of God, when he shall call him to an account: how shall it then excuse the people, that they according to God's command, punish not to death such as shall solicitate or violently draw the people to idolatry? The second is, that the punishment of such crimes, as idolatry, blasphemy, and others that touch the majesty of God, doth not appertain to kings and chief rulers only, but also to the whole body of the people, and to every member of the same, according to the vocation of every man, and according that possibility and occasion which God doth minister, to revenge the injury done against his glory: and that doth Moses more plainly speak in these words of the same chapter, "If in any city which the Lord thy God giveth thee, thou shalt hear this brute, there are some men sons of Belial."--Plain it is, that Moses speaks not nor giveth charge to kings, rulers, and judges only; but he commands the whole body of the people, yea and every member of the same, according to their possibility. And who dare be so impudent as to deny this to be most reasonable and just? For seeing God had delivered the whole body from bondage, and to the whole multitude had given his law,

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