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A Hind Let Loose by Alexander Shields

And abhorred in the presence of God


such wicked enemies, because

by them they were restlessly pursued and hunted, and murdered wherever they were found, neither could find any harbour or hiding place in any corner of the country, for searchers, informers, and instigators, who still stirred up the country to raise the hue and cry after them, and caused them to be delivered up, and delated them to the courts of their murdering enemies, whereby much innocent blood was shed; therefore, to stop their career of violence and deter them from such courses, they found it necessary to threaten them with more active and vigorous opposition, and that they might expect to be treated as they deserved. Wherein they are far from owning assassinating principles, or practising assassinations; for they give only open and plain warning, and advertisement to the world, of their necessitated endeavours to defend themselves, and prevent the murder of their brethren, and can no way be charged with asserting it lawful, to kill all employed in the king's service in church, state, army, or country, as the proclamation in viperous, invective calumny, misrepresents the declaration; but, on the contrary, do jointly and unanimously declare, 'They detest and abhor that hellish principle of killing such as differ in judgment from them, and they are firmly and really purposed, not to injure or offend any whomsoever, but such as are directly guilty of, or accessory to the murder of their brethren.' Whom yet they mind not to assassinate or kill tumultuarily, but to prosecute them
with all the legal formalities, that justice in their capacity, and the times disorder and distracted condition will allow; expressly declaring, 'That they abhor, condemn, and discharge all personal attempts upon any pretexts whatsomever, without previous deliberations, common consent, certain probation of sufficient witnesses, or the guilty persons confession.' Neither could it ever be supposed, that they threaten all employed in the king's service with this sort of handling, but some select and expressly distinguished kind of notorious villains, men of death and blood, openly avowing and vaunting of their murders: and these they distinguished into several classes, according to the respective aggravations of their wickedness: in the first, 'They place those that murder by command, under pretext of an usurped authority, as counsellors, justiciary, and officers of their forces, or bands of robbers, and not all, nor any of these neither, but the cruel and bloody.' In the second class, they threaten such as are actually in arms against them of an inferior rank, and such gentlemen, and bishops, and curates, as do professedly and willingly serve them to accomplish and effectuate their murders, by obeying their commands, making search for these poor men, delivering them up, instigating, informing, and witnessing against, and hunting after them: and not all these neither, but such as cruelly prosecute that service, to the effussion of their blood. Neither do they threaten all equally, nor any of them peremptorily, 'But that continuing after the publication of this their declaration, obstinately and habitually in these courses (plainly declaring they intended no hurt to them if they would hold up their hands) they would repute them as enemies to God and the reformation, and punish them as such, according to their power, and the degree of their offence; withal leaving room for civil and ecclesiastical satisfaction, before lawful and settled judicatories, for the offences of such persons, as their power may nor reach,' &c. And as unwilling to be necessitated to such severe courses, and earnestly desirous they be prevented, they admonish them with sorrow and seriousness, of the sin and hazard of their wicked courses; and protest, that only necessity of self preservation, and zeal to religion, lest it should be totally rooted out by their insolency, did drive them to this threatening declaration, and not because they were acted by any sinful spirit of revenge. This is all that is contained in that declaration. And if there be any thing here so odious and execrable, to be so solemnly abjured, renounced, and abhorred in the presence of God, for the pleasure of, and in obedience to the will of his and our enemies, let all unbiassed considerers impartially weigh, or any awakened conscience speak, and I doubt not but the sweating and subscribing this oath will be cast and condemned.

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