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A Hind Let Loose by Alexander Shields

A christian cannot possibly live without gospel ordinances


I shall offer some postulata or hypothesis to be considered, or endeavour to make them good, and infer from them the necessity and expediency of field meetings at this time in these circumstances: which consequently vindicate the sufferings that have been thereupon stated formerly, and are still continued.

1. It is necessary at all times that Christians should meet together, whether they have ministers or not, and whether the magistrate allow it or not. The authority of God, their necessity, duty, and interest, makes it indispensible in all cases. It is necessary for the mutual help, "two are better than one, for if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow," Eccl. iv. 9, 10. It is necessary for cherishing mutual love, which is the new commandment, and badge of all Christ's disciples, John xiii. 34, 35. a principle which they are all taught of God, 1 Thess. iv. 9. It is necessary for nourishing union to communicate together, in order to their being of one mind, and one mouth, and that they receive one another, Rom. xv. 5, 6, 7. 1 Cor. i. 10. Standing fast in one spirit, striving together for the faith of the gospel, Phil. 1. 27. It is necessary for serving one another in love, Gal. v. 13. bearing one another's burdens, and so fulfilling the law of Christ, Gal. vi. 2. submitting to one another, Eph. v. 21. 1 Pet. v. 5. teaching and admonishing one another, Col. iii. 16. comforting one another, 1 Thess. iv. last verse, edifying one another, 1

Thess. v. 11. exhorting one another, Heb. iii. 13. It is necessary for considering one another, and provoking unto love, and to good works; and for this end, they must not forsake the assembling of themselves together, as the manner of some is, for that were to sin wilfully, Heb. x. 24, 25, 26. Must these things depend on the magistrate's allowance? Or can they be done without meeting together in private or public? The same reasons do alike conclude for the necessity of both. If then there must be meetings for these ends necessary at all times, then when they cannot do it within doors, they must do it without. 2. There is a necessity for meeting for preaching and hearing the gospel; the enjoyment whereof hath always been the greatest design and desire of saints, who could not live without it; therefore they loved the place where the Lord's honour dwelt, Psal. xxvii. 8. This was the one thing they desired of the Lord, and that they would seek after, to behold the beauty of the Lord, Psal. xxvii. 4. For this they panted, and their soul thirsted, Psal. xlii. 1, 2. without which every land is but a thirsty land, where there is no water, where they cannot see the power and glory of God, as they have seen it in the sanctuary, Psal. lxiii. 1, 2. O how amiable are his tabernacles? "One day in his courts is better than a thousand elsewhere," Psal. lxxxi. 1, 10. No gladness to them like that of going to the house of the Lord, Psal. cxxii. 1. A christian cannot possibly live without gospel ordinances, no more than children can want the breasts, or the poor and needy want water when their tongue faileth for thirst; they are promised it in high places, and in the wilderness, when they can get it in no where else, Isa. lxi. 17, 18. There is an innate desire in the saints after it, as new born babes they desire the sincere milk of the word, 1 Pet. ii. 2. So that any that is offended with them for this, must be offended with them for being christians, for as such they must have the gospel, cost what it will. It is the greatest desire of the spouse of Christ, to know where he feeds and where to find the Shepherd's tents, where they may rest at noon, Cant. i. 7, 8. And not only in their esteem is it necessary: but in itself, the church cannot bear the want of it, for where there is no vision, the word of the Lord is then very precious, 1 Sam. iii. 1. No wonder then that the Lord's people make such ado of it, in a famine of it, that they go from sea to sea to seek it, Amos viii. 11, 12. and that they are content to have it at any rate; though with the peril of their lives, because of the sword of the wilderness, Lam. v. 9. Seeing they cannot live without it. Would men be hindered, by law, from seeking their natural food? Nay, they would fight for it before they wanted it, against any that opposed them. If then they cannot get it with peace, they must have it with trouble: and if they cannot get it in houses, they must have it wherever it is to be found, with freedom, and the favour of God.

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