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A Hind Let Loose by Alexander Shields

Sanctify the congregation assemble the elders


3.

It is necessary that the meetings be as public, as they can be with conveniency and prudence; yea, simple hazard should no more hinder their publicness and solemnity, than their being at all. Especially, in an evil time, when wickedness is encouraged and established, and conformity thereto pressed, truth banished, and a witness for Christ suppressed, corruption in doctrine, worship, discipline, and government connived at, countenanced, and advanced, the word of God is become a reproach, and men have no delight in it, apostasy is become universal, and both magistrates and ministers generally turned promoters of it, which is the true description of our times: then the meetings of the Lord's people, that endeavour to keep clean garments, should be more frequent, public, and avowed. The reasons are, 1. Then the call of God, by his word and works, is more clamant, for public and solemn humiliation, in order to avert public imminent judgments, and impendent strokes from God. It is not enough to reform ourselves privately and personally, and to keep ourselves pure from such courses, by an abstraction and withdrawing from them, as is proved, Head 1. (where this is improved as an argument against hearing the curates) Nor is it enough to admonish, exhort, reprove, and testify against such as are involved in these courses, but it is necessary, for them that would be approven, to adhere to the truth, and serve God after the right manner, and to mourn, sigh, and cry for all the abominations
of the time, so as to get the 'mark of mourners on their foreheads,' Ezek. ix. 4. and they that do so, will be found 'on the mountains like doves in the valleys, all of them mourning, every one for his iniquity,' Ezek. vii. 16. and not only to be humbled every family apart, but there must be a great mourning, as the mourning of Hadadrimmon in the valley of Megiddon,' Zech. xii. 11. to the end. That is a solemn public mourning there promised. There must be a 'gathering themselves together, though a nation not desired, before the decree bring forth, before the day pass as the chaff, and the fierce anger of the Lord come upon them, if they would have any possibility of their hiding,' Zep. ii. 1, 2, 3. 'The trumpet then must be blown in Zion, to sanctify a fast, to call a solemn assembly, gather the people, sanctify the congregation assemble the elders, gather the children,'----Joel ii. 15, 16. As was exemplified in Ezra's time, when there were great congregations of people assembled publicly, weeping very sore, then there was hope in Israel, Ezra x. 1, 2. and when that messenger of the Lord came up from Gilgal to the people of Israel, and reproved them for their defections and compliance with the Canaanites, they had such a solemn day of humiliation, that the place of their meeting got a name from it, they called the name of that place Bochim, that is, weepers, Judg. ii. 4, 5. 'And when the ark was at Kirjathjearim all the house of Israel lamented after the Lord----and they gathered together at Mizpeth, and drew water, and poured it out before the Lord,' 2 Sam. vii. 2. 6. I shewed before, that there is reason to fear that the sins of a few, especially of magistrates and ministers, will bring wrath upon the whole body of the people, as is plain from these scriptures, Lev. x. 6. Isa. xliii. 27, 28. Lam. iv. 13. Micah iii. 11, 21. shewing the sins of ministers may procure universal destruction. And 2 Sam. xxiv. 25. 2. Kings xxi. 11. Jer. xv. 4. proving the sins of magistrates may procure it: and Numb. iii. 14, 15. Josh. xxii. 17, 18. Demonstrating that the sins of a party of the people


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